“Despite progress, lead poisoning remains one of the top childhood environmental health problems today.” This quote, taken directly from the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children, should cause us to take a serious look at potential risks in our own homes for lead poisoning.
If you live in a home built before 1978, lead-based paint was probably used in your home. 24 million homes in the United States have peeling or chipping lead-based paint or high levels of lead in the dust. According to experts, there is no known safe level of lead exposure for children.
Lead is a toxic metal used in a variety of products and materials. When lead is absorbed into the body, it can cause damage to the central nervous system and vital organs like the brain, kidneys, nerves and blood cells. While lead can harm children without showing obvious symptoms, some symptoms of lead poisoning include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, tiredness and irritability.
Children can become poisoned by lead when they put their hands or other lead-contaminated objects into their mouths, by eating paint chips found in homes with peeling or flaking lead-based paint, and from playing in lead contaminated soil.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, you should have your home and surrounding soil checked for lead hazards by a lead professional. Children under six years of age should have their blood lead level tested if they may have been exposed to lead. Reasons to suspect a possible exposure to lead include:
They live in or regularly visit a house built before 1950
They live in or regularly visit a house built before 1978 with peeling paint or ongoing or recent renovations or remodeling.
They have a sibling or playmate who has or did have lead poisoning.
Ask your health care provider or local health department if your child should be tested for lead!