Lead poisoning can hurt people of any age, says Rutgers doctor

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Lead in the water supply or in paint can cause damage to a child's brain and nervous system and have adverse developmental effects. Lead also can be dangerous to adults, says Dr. Diane Calello, medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Department of Emergency Medicine.

"People sometimes report fatigue, some kind of mental fog, not feeling well. It can cause abdominal pain. It can cause infertility and high blood pressure, and also a neuropathy which affects the muscles and the sensation in the hands and feet," she said.

Calello says adults are typically exposed to the toxin through hobbies, and from imported products and non-regulated medications.

"The most common source in adults in the United States is occupational," Calello said. "People who work with munitions, or bullets or firearms, particularly in a shooting range, enclosed shooting range, with poor ventilation. People working in automotive salvage, welding and soldering."

She adds that the body will rid itself of the toxin over time, but if levels are too high, medication may be needed.