(RxWiki News) Here's what you need to know for National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.
When children are exposed to lead, their health is put at risk. But a little awareness can go a long way toward preventing exposure altogether.
Health Risks of Lead Exposure
Lead has been linked to numerous health problems in children and adults. When blood levels of lead become too high, lead poisoning can occur.
Lead poisoning can cause damage to the brain and nervous system and affect hearing. It can also slow a child's growth and development. High lead exposure can cause cognitive issues in kids, such as developmental delays and problems with speech.
As of 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that half a million children between the ages of 1 and 5 in the United States had enough lead in their blood to cause alarm.
Sources of Lead Exposure in Children
Knowing the sources of lead exposure is key to keeping your children safe from lead poisoning. In older homes, lead paint is a common source of exposure. When children swallow lead paint chips, they are directly exposed to lead, but they can also be exposed through house dust or soil that has been in contact with lead paint.
Lead-based paints were no longer approved for use in housing in 1978. That means houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. If you live in an older home, it's important to ask previous owners or landlords whether they have had the home tested for lead paint.
Although lead paint is a common source of lead exposure in children, it is far from the only source. The following are some other common causes of lead exposure in kids:
- Tea kettles, vinyl miniblinds and other lead-containing consumer products
- Drinking water contaminated by lead pipes
- Some ceramics and pottery
- Imported cosmetics
- Imported toys
- Imported candy
- Some home health remedies, such as azarcon and greta
To further lower the risk of a child coming into contact with non-residential lead sources:
- Avoid eating candies imported from Mexico and get rid of recalled toys and toy jewelry that have been found to contain lead.
- Use containers, cookware and tableware that are shown to be lead-free.
- Use only cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking and making baby formula. This is because hot water is more likely to contain higher levels of lead.
Furthermore, a variety of work and hobby activities can expose adults to lead. These include making home repairs or pottery, shooting at a firing range and remodeling a home. It's important to shower and change clothes after taking part in these types of activities.
Because of the serious health risks of lead exposure, it's important to consult with your child's pediatrician if you believe your child has been exposed to lead. Most children who have high levels of lead in their blood won't show any symptoms at first, so a blood test may be the only way to confirm lead levels.
It's important to identify and treat lead exposure early to prevent harm, so don't hesitate to reach out to your child's health care provider.