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Published on Nov 12, 2015
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. The CDC also reports that 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 the CDC recommends public health actions be initiated.
Although exposure to lead can be harmful to people of all ages, it is particularly harmful to the developing brain and nervous system of fetuses and young children. Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body and the CDC states that no safe blood lead level in children has been identified.
Lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms, so it frequently goes unrecognized. The Oregon Health Authority provides the following list of possible signs and symptoms of lead poisoning in children. They include: • Tiredness or loss of energy • Hyperactivity • Irritability or crankiness • Reduced attention span • Poor appetite • Weight loss • Trouble sleeping • Constipation • Aches or pains in stomach
Since exposure to lead can severely impact a child’s physical and mental development, preventing exposure before it occurs is essential. Two of the primary ways children are exposed to lead include ingestion and inhalation. A major source of exposure comes from lead-based paints that were used up until the late 1970s. Drinking water is another potential source as lead was sometimes used in the past in household plumbing materials or in water service lines. Lead may also be present in contaminated soils and has been found in some toy jewelry and folk medicines.
These are just a few things to know about lead poisoning in children. To learn more about this or other environmental, health and safety, occupational, indoor air quality or property damage issues, please visit the websites shown below.