lead poisoning children

There’s a renewed effort in the United States to have every home built before 1978 tested for lead.

The interest stems from a recently released report from an advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that stresses the importance of preventing children from living in homes with possible lead hazards. The committee says there is no such thing as an acceptable level of lead in the blood of children, and that testing a child for lead poisoning — although important — is often too late to reverse the damage. Any amount of lead in the blood can cause irreparable harm to a child, including autism, ADD/ADHD, tendency to violence, poor motor skills, and lowered IQs.

The committee writes in the report: “Prevention requires that we reduce environmental exposures from soil, dust, paint and water, before children are exposed to these hazards.”

The committee also emphasizes that although low-income children are poisoned more frequently by lead than other children, lead poisoning spans all socio-economic strata. Even in middle- and high-income homes, where there are no signs of peeling paint, children are still poisoned by lead dust.

Need more convincing? A recent study conducted by the Tulane School of Public Health discovered nearly two-thirds of all New Orleans homes contain dangerous levels of lead. The study found the presence of lead in homes in all neighborhoods, without regard for race or income. Clearly, lead problems are not confined to urban homes.

Bottom line: If you live in a home built before 1978, when lead paint was banned for residential use, have your home tested for lead. According to the CDC, a speck of lead dust, as small as a grain of sand, can poison a child. Simply opening or closing a window or door can send lead dust flying through the air. And any renovation, from a simple painting job to a major home overhaul, requires the services of tradesman and contractors certified in lead-safe work practices under the EPA’s Renovation, Repair & Painting Rule.

The Tulane study blames reckless renovation and disregard of lead-safe work practices in repairing and demolishing homes after Hurricane Katrina for the amount of lead found in homes throughout New Orleans.

Bust Lead Dust is a campaign designed to educate the public about the dangers of lead dust poisoning. It is chockfull of important information every person living in a pre-1978 built home or apartment needs to read.

Our next post will discuss the CDC advisory committee’s recommendations to lower blood lead levels in children.