Organic lead (tetraethyl lead, TEL) is used as an antiknock agent in gasoline and jet fuels. Tetraethyl lead is absorbed rapidly from the skin as well as the lungs and gastrointestinal tract and is converted to triethyl lead in the body. This form of lead may be responsible for its toxic effects. Due to its highly lipophilic nature, TEL passes the blood-brain barrier readily. It is soluble in CNS structures, especially the limbic forebrain, frontal cortex, and hippocampus. Symptoms of acute high-level exposure include delirium, nightmares, irritability, and hallucinations. Chronic effects of TEL include subtle cognitive and neuropsychiatric difficulties. y Treatment is mainly supportive, but chelation may be helpful.
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