How to Remove Lead From the Body

Test tubes with blood on blank with normal results
Blood sample (Image: Belyjmishka/iStock/Getty Images)

Although lead poisoning instances have decreased since lead was eliminated from gasoline and paint in 1978, lead poisoning is still a major public health problem in the United States, in particular in older homes and in cities on the East Coast, according to the NIH. A two-pronged approach is recommended to eliminate lead from the body, which involves eliminating the exposure while simultaneously taking medical action to remove the lead that has been accumulated.

Step 1

Cease your exposure to lead in your environment, if possible. Actions that can be taken include cleaning up paint chips and any peeling lead-based paint, as well as weekly cleaning with an all-purpose detergent to eliminate lead-contaminated dust that builds up on floors, countertops and window sills. If your plumbing contains lead pipes as is the case in many older homes, let the cold water run for several minutes before using it for drinking or cooking.

Step 2

Begin a prescription course of polythylene glycol if an abdominal x-ray shows evidence of lead. This medication is usually administered using a process known as "whole-bowel irrigation," where a stomach tube is inserted by mouth to wash the contents of the stomach and intestine.

Step 3

Follow doctor's directions with regards to taking succimer tablets by mouth if tests indicate mild lead poisoning.

Step 4

Make arrangements for a hospitalization where chelation therapy will be administered if your doctor diagnoses serious lead poisoning. Although sometimes a doctor will not require hospitalization, the drug treatment will remain the same. A drug known as dimercaprol will be administered via intravenous tube, intramuscular injections or by mouth. Chelating drugs work by binding to the lead, allowing it to pass into the urine and leave your body.

Step 5

Return to the doctor for repeated blood tests. These will need to occur on a regular basis as indicated by your doctor, who will continue monitoring you until your blood's lead count returns to a safe level.

Tip

In addition to removing lead, chelating drugs also strip the body of beneficial minerals like zinc, copper, and iron. Because of this, doctors will often prescribe vitamin supplements during treatment.

Warning

Because chelating drugs work slowly, It is not uncommon for more than one chelating treatment to be necessary in order to return your levels to a safe amount. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, in the case of lead detox and children, some children’s blood lead levels never decrease to less than ten mcg/dL.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.