Facts about lead poisoning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood lead poising is a major preventable, environmental health problem. An estimated 890,000 children in the United Sates have elevated blood levels and at least four million households have children living in them that are being exposed to lead. There is compelling evidence that adverse health effects occur at blood levels as low as 10 micrograms per deciliter.
Chipping or flaking paint and lead contaminated dust can be ingested and/or inhaled by children. There is lead often in the soil around lead painted homes, lead mining sites or heavily traveled roads (due to exhaust from leaded gas). When children play outside in these areas, they get soil on their hands and can ingest it through hand to mouth behavior. Lead contaminated paint, soil and water are the most common routes of lead poisoning. Some other possible sources exist: Water pipes, ceramic/pottery, vinyl miniblinds, lead crystal, hobby paint, stained glass, fishing sinkers and leaded gasoline.
You can limit lead poisoning by following these suggestions: Wash children’s toys and hands frequently, have a licensed lead inspector test older homes for the presence of lead and lead hazards, clean window sills, floors, or surfaces containing dust often, cover bare soil with grass or shrubs, provide small, frequent meals that are rich in iron, protein, calcium and low in fat and oil, as nutrition plays a part in the absorption of lead.
Often, lead poisoning is a result of continued exposure with gradual accumulation in the child’s body. Because of this, characteristics of lead poisoning can often be mistaken for other problems and may not be discovered until the lead reaches dangerous levels. It is important to be aware of potential symptoms and health effects that include: Slowed physical growth, learning difficulties, hyperactivity, hearing problems, inability to concentrate, short attention span, brain/nervous system damage, decreased intelligence, abdominal pain.
Children should be tested for lead poisoning twice before they are two-years-old. Because children may have high levels of lead, yet appear healthy, testing is important. It is necessary for a blood test to check for lead, however, in only takes a few minutes and results are ready within a week. Contact your local health department or your pediatrician for more information. Michigan State University Extension says that you can find your local health department at http://www.michigan.gov.