Lead prevention initiative aims to reduce children’s exposure

There is no safe level of exposure to the metal, experts say. Even low blood lead levels have been shown to affect IQ, attention span and academic achievement, according to HealthyChildren.org, a website of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Cognitive delays can last a lifetime and are not reversible.

The health district said part of this lead prevention project focuses on providing up-to-date information to health care providers in Clark County who serve as primary providers for children under age 6, by especially regarding lead screening in children in high-risk areas or who may be on Medicaid.

Health district staff will also conduct home visits to perform a primary in-home visual assessment using an Ohio Department of Health Visual Environmental Assessment Tool, according to the release.

The most common source of lead exposure in young children is lead dust, the health district said.

Young children tend to put their hands or other objects in their mouths, and lead dust is ingested when they put their hands or other lead-contaminated objects in their mouths.

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The risk of lead exposure is not the same for all children, and there are significant disparities in health outcomes between racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. High blood lead levels are more common in children from racial and ethnic minority groups as well as children from low-income households. Disadvantaged children are also more likely to live in homes built before the lead-based paint ban in 1978, greatly increasing the likelihood of exposure, according to the health district.

Children 6 and under are at higher risk of lead exposure because their bodies are growing rapidly and are more sensitive to lead absorption. For this reason, the health district said blood testing of children under age 6 is important.

According to the Ohio Department of Medicaid, all children enrolled in Medicaid must have blood lead tests at ages 12 and 24 months, but less than 60% of children on Medicaid have reported blood tests in the state registry in recent years.

This leaves 40% of low-income, already disadvantaged children at risk for undiagnosed and untreated lead poisoning.

Simple steps to make your home lead safer

The most important step that parents, pediatricians and others can take is to prevent lead exposure before it happens. Here are some simple steps to reduce lead exposure at home:

  • Talk to your local health department about testing your home’s paint and dust for lead if you live in a home built before 1978.
  • Common home improvement activities such as sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and shavings by disrupting lead-based paint. These can be harmful to adults and children.
  • Renovation activities must be performed by certified renovators who are trained by EPA-certified training providers to follow lead-free work practices.
  • If you see paint chips or dust on window sills or floors from peeling paint, clean these areas regularly with a damp mop.
  • Wipe your feet on rugs before entering the house, especially if you work in occupations where lead is used. Removing shoes when entering the house is good practice for controlling lead.
  • Take the recalled toys and jewelry away from children. Keep up to date with current recalls by visiting the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website at www.cpsc.gov.

Source: HealthyChildren.org

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