Lead poisoning is a serious environmental health problem for young children especially those between 6 months and 6 years of age. Many lead hazards still exist in homes and other environments built before 1978. Children put their hands in their mouth and can even bite on painted surfaces. When exposed to lead, children do not show obvious signs of illness unless the amount of lead in their body becomes very high. However, even low levels of lead may cause delays in mental and physical development that can last a lifetime.
Primary Sources of Lead Exposure
- Lead-based paint that is peeling, chipping, cracking or chalking
- Contaminated soil around buildings with peeling exterior lead-based paint
- Contaminated dust (dust can pick up lead when deteriorating lead-based paint rubs together or from soil tracked into the home)
- Contaminated drinking water from old plumbing fixtures
- Some imported jewelry and metal charms
- Lead-based painted toys and furniture
- Imported lead-glazed pottery and leaded crystal
Blood Lead Screening for Children
A simple blood test can detect high levels of lead. Lead screening is available to children ages 6 months to 6 years from your private medical provider. Many providers are routinely testing children at 12 months of age and more often as needed.
What Happens if my Child Tests Positive?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines lead poisoning as a blood lead level of 5 or greater. In Lincoln County, children with a lead level of 5 or greater are provided with follow-up and consultation by a Public Health Nurse. Follow-up may include phone calls, home visits, consultation with the primary health care provider and a home lead risk assessment by the Health Department’s Environmental Health Specialist. The ultimate goal is to reduce environmental lead exposure and lead poisoning.
- Wash child’s hands and face before eating and sleeping
- Provide a diet high in calcium and iron
- Don’t allow child to eat things that fall on the floor or ground
- Take child for a blood lead test!