Health Dept. Urges Getting Kids Tested To Combat Lead Poisoning

Most Kids Have No Symptoms; Blood Test Only Way to Tell If Child Has Lead Poisoning

PITTSBURGH – The Allegheny County Health Department is urging families to have children younger than six years old tested for lead poisoning.

Nearly half a million children in the United States have elevated blood lead levels that may significantly damage their health, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Major sources include lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in older, deteriorated homes, as well as additional sources such as lead in soil, take-home exposures from the workplace and contaminated drinking water.

“Childhood lead poisoning is entirely preventable.  Get your home tested and ask for a lead inspection before buying an older home.  Also, have your child tested for lead poisoning by age six. Even if he or she seems healthy, you should ask your doctor to test your child for lead,” said Acting Health Director Dr. Ron Voorhees.

Homes with disturbed or deteriorating lead-based paint are the primary source of lead exposure among children.  The key to prevention is not just to remove the lead but to make sure that renovation and repair projects are carried out properly.

Contractors and do-it-yourself remodelers performing work in housing built before 1978, when lead was banned in household paints, should follow lead-safe work practices to protect children.

In addition, children and pregnant women should not be present when older housing is undergoing renovations and not participate in or be around activities that disturb or clean up old paint.

Information about childhood lead poisoning, including lead-safe ways to renovate older homes, is available from the Allegheny County Health Department by calling 412-687-ACHD (2243) or visiting its web site at World Wide Web Icon www.achd.net.

Lead is a highly toxic metal that is harmful to young children because it can hinder their growth and development and cause irreversible brain damage.

Most children with elevated lead levels have no symptoms.  The only way to tell whether a child has lead poisoning is with a blood test. 

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