Most lead-poisoned people show no overt symptoms, especially in low-to-moderate cases. Before symptoms appear, lead may cause unseen injury to the body. Symptoms of early stages of lead poisoning may resemble “flu-like” illnesses. Some symptoms may include the following:

Symptoms In Children:

  • loss of appetite
  • anemia
  • apathy
  • vomiting
  • stupor
  • hyper-irritability
  • clumsiness
  • abdominal pain
  • constipation
  • lethargy
  • listlessness
  • loss of developmental skills
  • loss of muscular coordination
  • colic
Symptoms In Adults:
  • stomach cramps
  • muscle aches and pains
  • weight loss
  • anemia
  • vomiting
  • weakness
  • tendency to be aggressive
  • pain in back and lower extremities

Checking Your Family For Lead Poisoning


The total impact of lead on the nervous system has only recently been recognized. That means, earlier recommendations on “safe” amounts of lead in blood were dangerously close to levels now considered very likely to cause mental retardation in children. Medical professionals considered blood lead levels of greater than 60 mg/dl to be a health concern in the 1960s. This level was lowered to 25 mg/dl by the 1980s. In October of 1991, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reduced the level of concern to 10 mg/dl.

Your doctor or health center can perform a simple blood test that will detect lead in your body. The blood test is inexpensive and sometimes free. Your doctor will explain what the test results mean. Blood tests are important for children who are six months to one year old, and for family members who may have high exposure to leaded dust. Lead tests may be important in certain areas as early as 6 months of age, and should be done routinely in many areas as early as one year of age. For further information, contact your local health department or the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-LEAD-FYI.