Lead Poisoning – The Number One Toxic Hazard to Young Children

Last week was Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Lead poisoning is the number one toxic hazard to children under the age of 7.  Children with lead poisoning can suffer from:

  • Brain and nervous system damage
  • Learning and behavior problems
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing problems

Adults that are affected may show symptoms of high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, and reproductive problems.  Note that a child or adult can appear healthy, yet have a high level of lead in their body with symptoms that appear in time when a dangerous amount has accumulated in the system.

Children are usually exposed to lead through lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust from older houses built before 1978, including day care facilities.  According to the CDC, approximately 24 million housing units have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust.  More than 4 million of these dwellings are homes to one or more young children[1].  Children know no boundaries – they are inquisitive, curious and adventurous.  These behaviors put them at risk as they tend to handle objects or soil that may be contaminated with lead dust and then put their hands in their mouths.

How can you prevent childhood lead poisoning?

  • Deter access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces in older homes treated with lead-based paint.
  • Pregnant women and children should avoid renovation areas for homes built before 1978.
  • Children’s hands and toys should be washed frequently.
  • Household dust in older homes is a major source of lead contaminants.  Therefore, thorough and regular cleaning is important, including windowsills and baseboards.
  • Older plumbing contained lead or lead solder.  Call your local health department or water supplier to have your water tested.
  • Avoid eating candy imported from Mexico, as some products have been found to contain lead.
  • Avoid cookware or tableware that is not shown to be lead-free, many times imported from other countries.
  • If a family member works in an environment where he or she is exposed to lead, wash his or her clothes separately from the rest of the family’s.
  • Check the Lead Recall list regularly, click here to view the site.

If you suspect your or family members may be or have been exposed to lead, ExperTox can test for lead.  As part of the National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, activites are continuing across the country, including no or low cost testing services.  To find events in your area, check out the EPA Lead Poisoning Prevention Week site.

Drug-Free Work Week Open House

ExperTox would would like to thank everyone for participating in our Drug-Free Work Week Open House on October 21, 2009.  A special thanks goes out to Wendy Bowser, AFLAC, wendy_bowser@us.aflac.com; and June Fields, Orasure Technologies, jfields@orasure.com for their support by contributing raffle and promotional items for our guests.

Wendy Bowser, AFLAC

Wendy Bowser, AFLAC

 


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips.htm

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1 Response to “Lead Poisoning – The Number One Toxic Hazard to Young Children”


  1. 1 Edie McRae November 18, 2009 at 2:48 am

    As a former pediatric nurse, I can attest first hand to the aliments attributed to in-home lead poisoning. While education has helped some, there are still too many who are unaware of this potential danger lurking in their homes. I appreciate the ExperTox team for providing information and continued education about this subject.


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