What Parents Need to Know About Lead Poisoning
Lead poisoning is a public health issue that needs immediate attention.
With so much news on lead poisoning lately, CLEARCorps would like to take this opportunity to provide parents with helpful information on how to prevent you and your children from being poisoned.
First Things First
Children age 6 and under are at a high risk for lead poisoning because their brains are still developing; and even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:
- Behavior and learning problems
- Lower IQ and Hyperactivity
- Slowed growth
- Hearing Problems
In high concentrations, lead can also be deadly.
What is Lead and Where Is It Found?
Lead is a natural element found in small amounts in the earth’s crust. While it has some beneficial uses, it can be toxic to humans and animals causing negative health effects.
Lead and lead compounds have been used in a wide variety of products found in and around your homes, including paint, ceramics, pipes and plumbing materials, solders, gasoline, batteries, ammunition, and cosmetics.
Lead is found in all parts of our environment –air, soil, water, dust, food, and inside your homes.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) more than half a million U.S. children are now believed to have lead poisoning. Often, children who get lead poisoning live in old homes that are dilapidated or under renovation. They pick up paint chips or dust and put it in their mouths. Children have also picked up lead poisoning from soil contaminated by old leaded gasoline, from dust tracked in from industrial worksites, and from tainted drinking water. Lead has been banned in household paint since 1978 and was gone from gasoline by the late 1980s.
Were you diagnosed with lead poisoning as a child?
If you were, the lead in your system may have crossed the blood brain barrier and infected your child. That’s why it’s critical for pregnant women to protect their unborn children.
Important Steps Parents Can Take to Protect Your Children
- Children with levels below 5 ug/dl should see a doctor for lead poisoning. Parents are encouraged to get a second opinion if you’re not comfortable with the first diagnosis.
- Parents with children who have a lead level above 45 ug/dl should get immediate medical attention.
- Reduce the amount of lead found in your home. Contact your local health department and ask for a referral to a lead-risk assessor for lead remediation.
- Before moving into a new home, have the structure examined by a lead protection specialist.
- Use these great resources for accurate information on lead poisoning such as this website, and at www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/lead/, www.cdc.gov/lead/, and www.epa.gov/lead.
Remember: A common misconception is that the removal of lead from household paint and gasoline in the United States has been so successful that lead is no longer a health threat. Nothing could be further from the truth.
For more information on lead poisoning in children, we’d like parents to get this fact sheet by clicking HERE.
Here’s an excellent video overview of lead in homes built before 1978. It explains what lead is, how children can become harmed by lead, and how to get a lead test for your children.