It was less than a couple of weeks ago that the CDC initiated a campaign on Lead Prevention. In that same vein, the advisory Committee of Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention (ACCLPP) will be convening later this month to ensure that this country is doing all it can to eradicate lead poisoning in this country.
Is it a big deal? CDC estimates that about 250,000 kids in the U.S. have elevated blood levels. So, you tell me…is it a big deal? Early on, these children will develop subtle problems like upset stomachs, fatigue, and headaches. They will have slightly lower intelligence and be of a smaller stature than their non-toxic counterparts. In time, there’ll be behavioral problems, lethargy, anemia, and kidney disease. By this time, if the diagnosis is still not made (all it takes is a simple blood test) then there can be progression to lack of coordination, seizures, paralysis, and coma.
There are many ways kids, and adults too for that matter, can be exposed to lead. Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are the principal sources for kids. It wasn’t until 1978 when lead-based paints were banned for use in housing that the risk was removed. Or was it? There are a lot of houses inhabited now that are pre-1978. In fact, CDC estimates that there are 24 million housing units that contain deteriorated lead-based paint and four million of those units house at least one kid. Children under the age of six and living at or below the poverty line are at greatest risk.
So what does one do?
- Find out if you’re living in a house that was built before 1978.
- If you’re not sure and you want your kids to be safe, make sure your kids don’t have access to peeling paint that they can nibble on.
- Wash toys and play areas thoroughly
- Try not to have the kids play in the dirt (that’s a tough one, I know).
- Pregnant women also should not be in these houses while undergoing renovation. No need to inhale lead dust and potentially harm the fetus.
Finally there are non-residential sources of lead that could affect adults and children alike. These include:
- Certain candies from Mexico;
- Some folk medicine used by East Indian, Indian, Middle eastern, West Asian, and Hispanic cultures;
- Certain toys and jewelry painted with lead-based paint;
- Lead-based hobbies like stain glass making or bullet making. Be sure to thoroughly wash off and clean clothes after completing the activity. But if you’re the Lone Ranger and use silver bullets, no matter.
- Hot tap water. There is typically a higher amount of lead in hot tap water than in cold tap water.
If you would like further information, the CDC websites listed below will keep you on the right track.