A common misconception is that lead poisoning affects only the urban poor. While exposure risk is higher in deteriorating inner-city neighborhoods, this disease has been known to affect all socio-economic groups. Upper and middle-class children can become exposed to lead dust during renovations of older homes. Exposure to even low levels of lead can cause damage over time, especially in children.
Complications resulting from lead poisoning differ in children and adults and should therefore be addressed separately. The primary known risks to children are: poor muscle coordination; learning disabilities; nervous system and kidney damage; decreased muscle and bone growth; speech, language and behavior problems; and hearing damage. The primary known risks to adults are: pregnancy complications, including miscarriage, preterm delivery and stillbirth; damage to sperm-producing organs in men; memory and concentration problems; high blood pressure; digestive problems; nerve disorders; muscle and joint pain; and cataracts.