Health department urges testing for lead poisoning

Published 9:52 am Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lawrence County Health Department would like to have all children less than 6 years old that reside in our county checked for lead poisoning, preferably at 1 and 2 years old.

Lead poisoning is a completely preventable problem more common to children under the age of 6 years old. This age group is far more likely to contract high lead levels because they are growing so rapidly and are more likely to put their fingers or other objects in their mouths that may be contaminated with lead dust.

Children are exposed by breathing in or eating lead particles.

Lead based paint can be found most often in homes built before 1978. This paint was banned after 1978.

Those children below the poverty line are far more likely to suffer from high lead levels due to substandard housing conditions as well as the age of their home.

Even though children may live in a new home, parents must also be concerned with day cares, grandparents’ homes, as well as other babysitter’s home conditions where their children might spend the majority of their day.

A few steps to ensure your child is not exposed to lead dust are:

1) Prevent children from playing in dirt — sandboxes are much safer- (sandboxes that can be covered after children are through playing are the best to keep cats from viewing it as a large litter box!)

2) Regularly wet mop floors and wet wipe window sills, etc.

3) Regularly wash their hands as well as their toys.

4) Pregnant women and young children should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation.

5) Talk to your state or local health department about lead testing in your home.

Avoid traditional home remedies or cosmetics that may contain lead, candy imported from Mexico, or using storage bowls or dishes that do not say they are lead free.

Use only cold tap water for drinking, formula making, or cooking. (Hot water is more likely to have higher lead content due to the plumbing in the home – not the public water supply).

Family members should shower and change clothes after working with any hobby or job that involves lead products such as stained glass, bullet making, etc.

The Lawrence County Health Department’s phone number is 532-3962. The health department is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.