Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Effects of lead on adults
Name: Teresa Rumppe
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 

What are the effects of lead on an adult human being? Our school has a considerable amount of lead in the drinking water, and our district is telling us that the effects are insignificant to people over the age of 7.

I'm not absolutely certain of the specific health effects of lead exposure in adults, but do not believe that they are necessarily insignificant, as you've been told. It would seem to me that it would depend on the degree of exposure (i.e., how much lead exposure over what time period). Certainly in children the effects are clear, unequivocal, debilitating, and long lasting, so why take chances. Lead can cause severe neurological impairment in children, including loss of cognitive function. So it would seem that you should get more information on your exposure levels and rates. Perhaps some Public Health Agency or OSHA could help with specifics. If you run into blank walls, let me know I'll try to get more directly applicable information.

Ethan Allen

Click here to return to the Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory