Lead poisoning dangerous to children

Published 10:00 am Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lead poisoning is completely preventable and more common to children younger than 6 years old.

This age group is more likely to ingest or inhale lead particles because they put their fingers or other lead contaminated articles in their mouths.

Add to this fact that they are growing so rapidly the lead particles tend to enter their bloodstream causing problems with their immune, nervous, and renal (kidney) systems.

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Exposure to lead is strongly linked to developmental delays and contributes to aggression, antisocial behavior, and hyperactivity; they may have difficulty reading as well as have lower IQ’s.

Children who have poor dietary habits are also more prone to an elevated blood lead level.

If children eat a well balanced diet full of calcium, iron, and vitamin D, it is much easier for the lead particles to bind to these elements and then be removed from the body primarily through the kidneys as urine.

Some ways to assure that your child is not exposed to lead dust are:

• Make sure children have a balanced diet including foods high in calcium, iron, and vitamin D.

• Prevent children from playing in dirt– sandboxes are much safer (covers should be used on sandboxes when children are not playing to keep neighborhood cats out of the sand);

• Good hand washing should be encouraged after play and before eating;

Regularly wash toys that children play with, especially toys left on the floor that may come in contact with dirt tracked in off of shoes;

• Pregnant women and young children should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovations;

• Regularly wet mop floors and window sills, etc.

• With homes that have older water pipes, use cold tap water for drinking, formula making, or cooking. ( Hot water is more likely to have higher lead content due to the older plumbing in the home, not from the public water supply.)

Ohio guidelines are to perform a lead level at 1 and 2 years old. If one has not been done at those two ages, a lead level should be done before the child is 59 months old.

You may call the Lawrence County Health Department for an appointment. The phone number is (740) 532-3962. Please call Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Rita Townsend is a registered nurse at the Lawrence County Health Department.