Lead is absorbed into the body through the lungs or the mouth and is a "cumulative" poison, being stored in the bone tissue. Early symptoms of lead poisoning are tiredness, headache, aching bones and muscles, forgetfulness, loss of appetite and sleep disturbance. One tell-tale sign is a blue line on the gums. This is followed by constipation and attacks of intense pain in the abdomen, called lead colic.

As more lead is absorbed into the body, paralysis sets in. This affects the radical nerve in particular, causing 'wrist drop'. In the final stages, the victim suffers convulsions, coma, delirium and possibly death.

Full-blown cases of lead poisoning are rare today, because of better hygiene practices in industry. However, people working in occupations such as (but not limited to) radiator repair, battery manufacture, lead soldering, engine reconditioning,and non-ferrous smelting and casting need to be under medical surveillance and have blood lead level tests to monitor the amount of lead in their bodies.

Some of the proteins that are known to be affected by lead regulate blood pressure, (which can cause development delays in children and high blood pressure in adults), heme production (which can lead to anemia), and sperm production (possibly implicating lead in infertility). Lead displaces calcium in the reactions that transmit electrical impulses in the brain, which is another way of saying it diminishes your ability to think or recall information, or makes you stupid.
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