Before the dangers of lead were established, this heavy metal was found in a variety of consumer products. Thus, considerable concern has been expressed about contamination of food and water ( lead pipes )occurring over a long period of time. It is likely that the lead content of food has not increased because the soil retains lead effectively. Exposure of food to lead likely increases surface contamination of the food. Lead absorption in children is ca. 40% but in adults is only 10%.
Weight reduction, anemia, renal function, and central and peripheral nervous system effects have been attributed to chronic ingestion of lead. Neurological disorders may be related to low lead levels and may go unnoticed in the developing brains of children. Lead passes the placental and the blood–brain barrier of the fetus. Because children are highly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, exposure has to be prevented, particularly by reducing intakes from dust and pica.