The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. There are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated. These statistics alone should urge homeowners to participate more in lead poisoning prevention efforts.
Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. Protecting children from exposure to lead is important to lifelong good health. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected.
The major goal in lead poisoning prevention is ensuring that children avoid exposure to lead before they are harmed. Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the most hazardous sources of lead for U.S. children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. All houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint.
Steps in Lead Poisoning Prevention
What is the first step in the direction of lead poisoning prevention? Well, it is important to determine the construction year of the house or the dwelling where your child spends a large amount of time (e.g., grandparents or daycare). In housing built before 1978, assume that the paint has lead unless tests show otherwise. For an inexpensive approach, you can try an Environmental Professional in a box™ DIY Lead in Paint testing kit from Environmental Innovative Technologies.
If you are still unsure, you may also contact your state or local health department for testing initiatives. Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint. Children and pregnant women should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation. Make sure to separate or close off living and play areas that can be exposed to lead. Close and lock doors to keep children away from chipping or peeling paint on walls. You must consistently wash children’s hands and toys to ensure removal of all possible toxic material. Also regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window components. Because household dust is a major source of lead, you should wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces every 2-3 weeks. Take off shoes when entering the house to prevent bringing lead-contaminated soil in from outside. And lastly, when actively pursuing lead poisoning prevention, stop your children from playing in any kind of soil and opt for sandbox play instead. If you have a sandbox, cover the box when not in use to prevent cats from using it as a litter box. That will help protect children from exposure to animal waste.
Being proactive in lead poisoning prevention is an enormous necessity in that when avoided it can lead to severe illnesses. And with so many resources at your disposal, it should be an easy task to engage in lead poisoning prevention.