Science

Gunshot Wounds: Over 450 People Suffer From Elevated Lead Poisoning

By Charles Omedo , Feb 10, 2017 05:27 AM EST
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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that thousands of unreported patients suffer from toxic lead poisoning as a result of the bullet fragments lodged in their bodies. And then, this is also true of people who have accessed medical care were doctors had been unable to fully extract all bullet fragments from their bodies. The CDC analyzed medical reports published between 2003-2012 from 41 US states and discovered 145,000 gunshot victims, with 457 of these people having very toxic or elevated levels of lead poisoning in their systems.

According to a CDC official, Debora Weiss, of the Wisconsin Department of Health, about 115,000 people are wounded by gunshot injuries every year in the US, even though 70% of these remain non-fatal but could lead to lead poisoning in the blood in the near future for the gunshot victims, NBC News reported.

Symptoms of lead poisoning from gunshot wounds

Surgeons often remove bullet fragments where these are easy to do or constitute a life-and-death situation, but they often choose to ignore slugs where the patient is not in any immediate or foreseeable danger. However, unextracted bullet fragments can lead to lead poisoning without any serious recognition.

Some of the symptoms of lead poisoning from gunshot wounds are often non-specific but could include memory loss, fatigue and abdominal pain where the level of lead poisoning is not more than 5 micrograms per deciliter of blood, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. But where they exceed 10 micrograms per blood, then miscarriage, kidney damage, high blood pressure, and cognitive defects could result, Chicago Tribune reports.

Lead poisoning can harm wildlife and fish

It must also be pointed out that lead can harm wildlife where scavengers consume preys felled by hunters' bullets. Fish could also be poisoned by lead when it is released or leaked into water sources; a typical example of the Flint community in Michigan where hundreds of children suffered from lead poisoning in 2014 after the city changed its water supply from the Lake Huron to the Flint River.

Where a pregnant woman has lead in her system, it could lead to organ damage and also affect her unborn child - destroying its nerve cells and causing brain damage that cannot be reversed. Water pipes can also cause lead poisoning if lead is used to solder it, causing lead to leak into water sources and directly absorbed into the human system.

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