Mental Health Monday–Pb and Heavy Metal Poisoning


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So, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say most people have heard of lead poisoning. Right? I mean, you know you shouldn’t eat paint chips. Why? Because you don’t know if the paint contains–drum roll please–lead. Luckily, new paints don’t include lead, but if you have an older home…well, you shouldn’t eat paint chips no matter how old the house is. I mean, really, just don’t.

Um, and don’t chew on lead bullets either. And feel free to be thankful you don’t live in ancient Rome because the aqueducts were frequently lined with lead. (A fun fact you can share at cocktail parties!)

Ahem. Moving on.

Lead is a heavy metal (No, not a heavy metal band, sorry Metallica fans). (Did I say I’m the queen of bad jokes? Yeah, should’ve mentioned that…) Our bodies don’t like heavy things. Just sayin’. When too much lead gets into the system, a LOT of symptoms could develop. They vary from belly pain, memory loss, weakness, pain, and, in children, hearing loss, delayed growth, clumsiness, behavior problems, anemia, and vomiting.

Psychiatric symptoms include irritability, learning disabilities, behavior problems, difficulty with learning, and depression and anxiety. At higher levels, lead poisoning can cause a condition called “encephalopathy.” Encephalopathy is caused by many conditions. Basically, it means the brain is sick. People with encephalopathy can experience striking confusion, change in their consciousness (appear awake and alert one minute and quite drowsy and confused the next, AKA delirium), coma, and seizures.

There ya go. Any character of yours could have some or all of these symptoms (thereby mimicking a psychiatric illness) but it’s really due to lead poisoning!

As always, the information in this series is for writing purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or treatment.

Check out Lydia’s blog for Medical Monday!

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6 comments on “Mental Health Monday–Pb and Heavy Metal Poisoning

  1. Lydia Kang says:

    Sweet post! Thanks Laura! I didn’t know about the ancient Roman aqueducts. Cool! Or rather, bad?
    🙂

  2. I can’t wait to write something where I’m going to need all this great info! Thanks Laura!

  3. Danyelle says:

    Fascinating about the aqueducts! Gah! I hate paint. I have a little guy with autism who will chew on the walls in the corner when the mood strikes. I’m talking major chewage as in he also removes chunks of everything down to the metal corner thingie. >.< So we have to be very careful about where we live.

  4. Lynn Rush says:

    Oh yeah. This is great stuff!!! Thanks for this. Love your mental health Mondays.

  5. So interesting! There’s a topic that’s never been done before–an MC with lead poisoning.

  6. Fascinating! I didn’t know about the aquaducts.

    One hundred + years ago (I don’t remember when they stopped), lead was put into women’s cosmetics to whiten the skin. Even Queen Elizabeth I used it. Shudder!

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