Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning is one of the most wide-spread environmental hazards facing children today. According to the CDC, about one in 11 children has high levels of lead in the blood. Because a person cannot see, taste, or smell lead, many parents don't realize they have a lead problem in their home or school, or both, until their children become ill.

Lead in a child's body can result in damage to the brain and nervous system, cause behavior and learning disabilities, slowed growth, headaches, and hearing problems. If caught early, these effects can be limited by reducing exposure to lead or by medical treatment. Lead can be detected in children through a simple blood test.

Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning. When painted surfaces become old and in disrepair, the dust or paint chips that crumble from these surfaces may contain lead. Paint dust or chips can cling to toys, fingers, and other objects that children normally put into their mouths. Lead paint was banned in 1978, but buildings constructed before this date probably contain lead-based paint. Do not attempt to remove lead-based paints yourself - contact a lead abatement professional.

Drinking water is another source of lead poisoning. Lead gets into drinking water when old pipes in the plumbing of a building wear down or corrode, or when lead solder is used to connect pipes. Old homes are often more at risk because pipes made before the 1930s may be solid lead. Household water will contain more lead if it is hot or if it has sat for a long time in the pipes. Let tap water run for a few minutes before using and only use water from the cold-water tap for cooking and drinking.

PTAs Are . . .

Recommending testing homes and schools for lead (Call your local and state health department for information about testing homes and schools for lead-based paint and lead in drinking water.)

Educating parents about the need to get their children tested for lead exposure and, if necessary, treated before damaging health effects occur

National Lead Information Center

National Safety Council

1019 19th Street N.W. Suite 401

Washington, DC 20036-5105

(800) 424-5323 - call for a free information packet on lead poisoning.

U.S. EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline

(800) 425-4791 - call for information on lead in drinking water.

Links:

KidsHealth.orgMayo ClinicLead Paint in Schools/National Resources Defense Council

Chairman:

Scott Rhyne, Family Engagement Chairman