It’s the goal of The CDC to eliminate all elevated blood lead levels in children by 2010. Much information has been given out in regards to lead based paint, but few parents actually realize the threat that exists with lead in their environment
Lead is a heavy metal that is easy to work with. Its popularity dates back thousands of years. Lead was used: to create plates/mugs, as an additive to wine, in exterior and interior paints, in gasoline for engines and even as an anti-infective in wounds. Genuine crystal is made with lead and should not be used for food and beverage storage.
While gasoline is no longer sold with lead, lead still accumulates in the environment. Soil along busy roads, vacant land where older homes once sat and even soil where lead based paint was allowed to deteriorate is a threat.
Children under the age of two are at greatest risk for lead poisoning. Children of this age range are known for putting their hands and objects in their mouths. When a child comes in contact with: old toys which may have been exposed, old paint containing lead or contaminated soil, and then places an object in their mouth, they are now exposed to lead. An infant formula mixed with water that contains lead is another possible exposure.
Candy that has been imported from other countries has been known to contain lead. You should always use caution when giving or consuming candy’s or other food items that have been imported.
Lead can also be found in drinking water. Contaminated soil can leak into water systems. The plumbing in your home can contain lead or lead solder. You cannot see, taste or smell lead. Boiling your water has no effect.
Occupational hazards are also a threat. Persons who work with lead or jobs that consist of home remodeling can bring lead home on their skin or clothes.
Lead can deposit and store in bones and joints. Women who become pregnant and who were previously exposed to lead can have children born with elevated blood lead levels. Lead passes through the placenta and into the fetus. The lead is released from mom when the pregnancy is taking calcium from the bones.
Household dust can contain lead. Tracking in contaminated dirt and dust from home renovations can be inhaled.
It is a fact that a child can seem 100% healthy and still have high levels of lead in their blood.
Low levels of lead in the body can slow the child’s development. Learning disabilities and behavioral problems have been linked to lead exposure. Too much lead in the body can seriously injure the brain, nervous system, read blood cells, kidneys and also lead to mental retardation and death.
To protect yourself and your family, the following advice is recommended:
Consult your child’s pediatrician and discuss lead testing. A simple blood test is all that is needed to check the level of lead exposure in your child. It is possible for a result to be contaminated. If the first result comes back high, request a second testing.
You can get your home and yard tested for lead. Home testing kits are available for home dust, soil and water but the accuracy has not yet been established. Hiring a professional to perform these tests might be the better way to go due to their reliability and they will also be able to advise you on ways of resolving these issues.
If you suspect that your home may have lead hazards, there are a few steps you can take:
The National Lead Information Center can offer you help in locating local certified contractors in your area. Financial assistance may also be available.
If you or your family member test positive for unsafe blood lead levels, oral chelation therapy is available. These medications bind to the iron so that it can be excreted in urine. The more severe the levels, the more involved the treatment. I.V. therapy and Intra-muscular injectables are also a treatment option.
Lead poisoning is a major environmental health problem in the United States. Having yourself and your family tested is vital to your health and well-being.
- Clean up any paint chips
- Keep your child from chewing painted surfaces
- Remove your shoes before entering your home
- Wash your child’s hands frequently
- Increase yours and your families’ intake of iron, calcium and meals that are low in fat content.
- Hire professionals to perform home improvement projects.
- Hire professionals to remove and correct lead problems.