Lead poisoning can seriously affect the development and health of children.
Click on each title below for more information on lead poisoning compiled
from the Centers for Disease Control:
Q. What is the problem?
A. Approximately 434,000 U.S. children aged 1-5 years have blood
lead levels greater than the CDC recommended level of 5 micrograms of
lead per deciliter of blood.
Lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead
poisoning often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized.
Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and,
at very high levels, seizures, coma, and even death.
Q. How are children exposed to lead?
A. The major source of lead exposure among U.S. children is lead-based
paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings. Lead-based
paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. However, approximately
24 million housing units in the United States 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.
Other sources of lead poisoning are related to:
- hobbies (making stained-glass windows)
- work (recycling or making automobile batteries)
- drinking water (lead pipes, solder, brass fixtures, valves can all
- home health remedies (arzacon and greta, which are used for upset
stomach or indigestion; pay-loo-ah, which is used for rash or fever).
Q. Who is at risk?
A. Here is a list of those at risk.
- Children under the age of 6 years because they are growing so rapidly
and because they tend to put their hands or other objects into their
- Children from all social and economic levels can be affected by lead
poisoning, although children living at or below the poverty line who
live in older housing are at greatest risk.
- Children of some racial and ethnic groups living in older housing
are disproportionately affected by lead. For example, 22% of black children
and 13% of Mexican-American children living in housing built before
1946 have elevated blood lead levels compared with 6% of white children
living in comparable types of housing.
Q. Can lead poisoning be prevented?
A. Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. The key is stopping children
from coming into contact with lead and treating children who have been
poisoned by lead.
- Lead hazards in a child’s environment must be removed
- Public and health care professionals need to be educated about lead
poisoning and how to prevent it
- Children who are at risk of lead poisoning need to be tested, and,
if necessary, treated. What can I do to reduce blood lead levels?
- Ask a doctor to test your child if you are concerned about your child
being exposed to lead. · Talk to your state or local health department
about testing paint and dust from your home for lead if you live in
a house or apartment built before 1978, especially if young children
live with you or visit you.
- Damp-mop floors, damp-wipe surfaces, and frequently wash a child’s
hands, pacifiers, and toys to reduce exposure to lead.
- Use only cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking, and for making
baby formula. Hot water is more likely to contain higher levels of lead,
and most of the lead in household water usually comes from the plumbing
in your house, not from the local water supply.
- Avoid using home remedies (such as arzacon, greta, pay-loo-ah) and
cosmetics (such as kohl, alkohl) that contain lead.
- Take basic steps to decrease your exposure to lead (for example, by
showering and changing clothes after finishing the task) if you remodel
buildings built before 1978 or if your work or hobbies involve working
with lead-based products.
Q. Where can I get more information?
A. For information on lead poisoning, including screenings for childhood
lead poisoning, contact our expert nurses in the Community Health/Clinical
Services Unit at 609-645-5933 or click on one of the links to visit the
resource pages below:
Information compiled from the Centers for Disease Control.