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QUESTION: Your enquiry on Information linking Lead and Neuropathy - 26 Feb 2007 Washington, USA

Where might I find information regarding the relationship of lead and idiomatic neuropathy? I was raised in one of the largest lead/zinc mining areas in the world. My feet are numb and all tests indicate idiomatic neuropathy. The numbness is steadily increasing and I would like to know if there is any information on the link between lead and neuropathy. Thank you very much.‍

ANSWER: 11 Jul 2007

Dear Jule,

We are sorry for having taken long to respond to your request. The delay has been caused by shortage of resources on our side.

However in reply to your query, our view is that the link between high levels of Lead poisoning and neuropathy is well established and there are some links to publications in this area. There is useful information on the following URL at The American Family Physician Web archive: We have used the following information available to us to answer an earlier query that could in some ways apply to yours:

It is true that the body will get rid of a small amount of lead every day but unfortunately if a person is exposed to more than a small amount of lead, then the rest accumulates and most of it is stored in the bones. The stored lead does not always remain in the bones and there are several situations (eg cortisone treatment, massive changes in activity level, bone breaks) which allow leaching of that stored lead to a greater extent than the probably continuous low-level flow of lead from the bones back into the bloodstream. As you age, the bones tend to demineralise and if in your developing skeleton you laid down lead in place of calcium, this demineralisation process will also add lead to the bloodstream thus giving that lead a second chance to affect every other organ.

The best way to find out whether your memory, joint and fatigue problems could be due to your childhood lead exposure, is to have a blood lead test now - just ask your doctor for the test. Another test you could also organise through a doctor (who has the appropriate training and experience to interpret the results), is a urine chelation challenge test. The results may demonstrate that it would be worthwhile for you to undergo chelation treatment in order to reverse or lessen some of your symptoms. There is a wonderful not-for-profit group working on lead poisoning issues in Canada that goes by the same acronym as our group - LEAD - but their's stands for Lead Environmental Awareness and Detection.

We would also like invite you to join our LEAD E-group on Lead poisoning. You will receive the invitation shortly. See: egroups

The E-group is the global forum Lead Poisoned Adults that we set up this year so that lead poisoned adults can help each other through discussion. It would be great if you could forward your queries (so other members understand your situation) and this response to the egroup to trigger a discussion of these important issues. Hope this helps.

Patrick Mugo Muraguri Volunteer Information Officer

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