Get Your Child Tested – Children can begin being tested at age 1 and should continue to be tested until they are 6 years old. – Children under the age of 6 are especially at risk, and the long-term effects of lead in a child can be severe. They include learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing, behavioral problems, seizures, coma, brain damage, and even death. - The major source of lead exposure among U.S. children is lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings. Children living in or below the poverty line, or in older housing, are also at a greater risk. - If you are pregnant, avoid exposing yourself to lead. Lead can pass through you body to your baby. - Although the natural level of lead in children is zero, it is considered normal to have a blood level of less than 9. - If a child has recently ingested lead paint, glazes, or a lead weight, he’ll need to undergo decontamination until it is removed from his body. See the section under treatment for more information.
Keep Your House Clean – Dust from the floor or nearby children’s play areas can cause an increase in blood lead level. - Encourage children not to put their hands in their mouths and wash their hands frequently. Use a wet mop to dust. Wash toys frequently.
Reduce The Risk Of Lead Paint – Do not allow children to put anything in their mouth covered with lead paint. - Don’t burn painted wood, as it may contain lead. - Lead that has contaminated soil from the past use of lead paint and gasoline does not degrade or break down with time.
Don’t Remove Lead Paint Yourself – Test your house for lead paint using a lead test kit. - Hire a person with special training to remove the lead paint. The family should leave the house during the process.
Don’t Bring Lead Dust into Your Home – If you work with lead, try to shower and change your clothes before going home. - Encourage children to play in sand or grass instead of dirt, which sticks to fingers easier. Recommend that children wash their hands when coming into the house. - Avoid using home remedies and cosmetics that contain lead.
Get Lead Out Of Your Drinking Water – Test your water for lead. - Run your faucet 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it, especially if it hasn’t run in a few hours. - Try to use only cold water from the tap for drinking and cooking. Hot water is more likely to contain higher levels of lead, and most of the lead in household water usually comes from the plumbing in your house, not from the local water supply.
Eat Right– Don’t store food in lead crystal glassware or old pottery. - If you reuse plastic bags, keep the printing on the outside of the bag.
Statistics – About 1 in 22 children in America have high lead in their blood. - Levels of lead should be no more than 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control - Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. However, approximately 24 million housing units in the U.S. have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust. More than 4 million of these dwellings are homes to one or more young children. - 22 percent of black children and 13 percent of Hispanic children living in housing built before 1946 have elevated blood lead levels compared with 6 percent of white children living in comparable types of housing.
Treatment – Lead is a metal that is poisonous and toxic, especially when it is ingested. After being ingested, lead enters the bloodstream and is absorbed and stored in many tissues and organs in the body, including the liver, kidneys, brain, teeth and bones. You can’t see, taste or smell lead. Elevated blood levels are treated with metal-removing therapy. These medications are chelating agents, which decrease blood lead levels (BLL) by binding to them, so they will leave the body in the urine. Medications include DMSA, an oral drug that binds to lead and mercury and is given every eight hours for five days, and then every twelve hours for two more weeks. It is usually used for BLLs between 45 and 69. Other metal-removing agents that are used for treatment of symptomatic lead poisoning and for BLLs greater than 69 is EDTA, which is given as a continuous infusion or an injection within a muscle for 3-5 days, and BAL which is given as an injection.