Lead poisoning is an entirely preventable health problem affecting Kansas' children. Lead is a toxic metal found in the environment that produces a variety of adverse health effects. Childhood lead poisoning occurs in all population groups and income brackets however, children from low-income families are at the highest risk. Only through early identification and treatment of lead poisoning can the risk of permanent health damage be reduced. A blood lead test is the only way to determine if a child has an elevated blood lead level.
Children are exposed to lead through inhalation and ingestion of lead dust and soil particles. Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure for lead in children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. Approximately 72% of homes in Kansas were built before 1978 and are likely to contain some lead-based paint. It is the deterioration of this paint that causes a problem.
Renovation or maintenance of home projects that disturb lead-based paint can create a lead dust hazard. Lead dust can settle on toys, walls, floors, tables, carpets, etc. where it can be easily inhaled or ingested. in addition, young children sometimes eat peeling or chipping paint.
Other sources of lead exposure include:
- Old (lead galvanized) water pipes
- Vinyl window blinds (non-glossy before 1996)
- Hobbies which involve lead (lead solder, welding, bullets, stained glass, etc.)
- Candy, imported from Mexico
- Jewelry, imported
Lead sources in a child's environment must be identified, controlled, and safely removed.
Health Effects of Lead Poisoning:
Once lead is inhaled or ingested it enters the child's bloodstream and travels to every organ in the body. In addition, it collects in the body's soft tissues and settles in the bones and teeth where it is stored and accumulates. Lead poisoning can be difficult to recognize however, it interferes with the development of the brain and a child's central nervous system. Authorities report that for every 10 ug/dl increase in blood lead levels, a child's IQ is lowered by four to 7 points.
Other health effects of lead poisoning include:
- Brain damage
- Kidney damage
- Damage to the reproductive system
- Decreased intelligence
- Impaired neurological development
- Impaired hearing, and
- Decreased stature and growth
Elevated blood lead levels can also affect pregnant women by causing low birth weight babies and miscarriage.
Most children don't show symptoms of lead poisoning. However, elevated blood lead levels may cause children to complain of headaches, loss of appetite, vomiting, fatigue, stomachache, constipation, or have seizures.
- Child Vaccinations
- Adult Vaccinations
- Travel Vaccinations
- Flu Shots