Flint Michigan: How Do We Get the Lead Out?

As part of every pediatric workup, a child must have their lead levels checked to make sure there is no environmental exposure to lead. If your child is not sitting in the corner of your living room eating paint chips off your windowsill, chances are we stop testing for lead in the blood at a very young age. Although the big exposures of lead might be avoided, slow accumulating, insidious exposures still exist. The EPA recommends the “safe level” of lead in water to be zero, but instances such as Flint, Michigan make us wonder: how much lead is really in our tap water? New York City prides itself on its water quality, saying it tests the water daily and pre-treats the water with a lead fighting preservative,3 but there is no way of truly knowing what is coming through your pipes. In a study done on Maryland residential drinking water annual averages of 0.93 microgram/L of lead was found in the water.6 Minimal, but present. Some other sources can be soil, tobacco smoke, and cosmetics.

Our bodies are very resilient and know how to get rid of toxins, but when it comes to heavy metals such as lead, deposits can last years. The CDC reports that lead’s half-life is about 28 days, but the metal can deposit in soft tissue and bones, causing a slow release over decades.3 Heavy metals such as lead are more prevalent in our blood streams than you think. Symptoms of low level toxicity can be vague (fatigue, weakness etc.) which is why heavy metal testing should be routinely done.

So what are the options for heavy metal toxicity treatment outside of acute lead poisoning? The best treatment to date is EDTA.5 EDTA is “A crystalline acid, C10H16N2O8, that acts as a strong chelating (removal) agent. The sodium salt of EDTA is used as an antidote for metal poisoning, an anticoagulant, and an ingredient in a variety of industrial reagents.”1 EDTA is administered in an IV form or injection. In addition to binding the heavy metal, EDTA has also been proven to have positive immunological effects. Lead has been shown to decrease immune function and up-regulate the allergic response in the body.4 In a study done on two Lead workers CaEDTA injections showed a significant decrease of Lead in their blood after only 3 injections. In addition, there was a significant increase in immune function by decreases in antibodies production after the injections of EDTA.7 This highlights the importance of removing the harmful toxin from the bodies not only to prevent damage but to improve immune function.

At the Salerno Center IV Caedta is routinely used to detox lead and other heavy metals with much success.

  1. (2015). In The Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries (Ed.), The American Heritage Dictionary of Medicine(2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
  2. Environmental Health and Medicine Education. (2017, April 19). Retrieved March 7, 2019, from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=34&po=9
  3. Lead in Your Drinking Water. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/drinking_water/lead.shtml
  4. Mishra, K. P., Chauhan, U. K., & Naik, S. (2006). Effect of lead exposure on serum immunoglobulins and reactive nitrogen and oxygen intermediate.Human & Experimental Toxicology, 25(11), 661-665. doi:10.1177/0960327106070453
  5. Roberts JR, Reigart JR. Medical Assessment and Intervention. In: Managing Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Young Children: Recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Atlanta 2002.
  6. Ryan, P. B., Huet, N., & MacIntosh, D. L. (2000). Longitudinal investigation of exposure to arsenic, cadmium, and lead in drinking water.Environmental Health Perspectives, 108(8), 731-735. doi:10.1289/ehp.00108731.
  7. Sata, F., Araki, S., Sakai, T., Nakata, A., Yamashita, K., Morita, Y., . . . Miki, A. (1997). Immunological effects of CaEDTA injection: Observations in two lead workers.American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 32(6), 674-680. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0274(199712)32:6<674::AID-AJIM15>3.0.CO;2-Z

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