Lead Poisoning Prevention

What is Lead Poisoning?

Lead poisoning is a disease caused by swallowing or inhaling lead – even small amounts of chipped lead paint or leaded dust

  • Lead is most harmful to young children (under 6 years). Why?
    • They put everything into their mouths and their bodies absorb lead more easily
    • Pregnant women who are exposed to lead are also at risk because the ingested or inhaled lead can cross the placenta and expose the unborn fetus.

Signs of Lead Poisoning

  • Stomachache and cramps
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Sleep disorders
  • Poor appetite

What are the effects of lead poisoning?

Since lead is easily absorbed by a child’s growing body, lead can interfere with the developing organs and the brain.

  • Low-Level Exposure
    • Slows growth
    • Shortened attention span
    • Reduced IQ
    • Hyperactivity
    • Learning disabilities
    • Hearing impairments
  • High Levels or Repeated Exposure
    • Mental retardation
    • Coma
    • Convulsions
    • Death

Very high levels are now rare in the United States

Lead Risk Assessment Service

Since lead poisoning is a result of continued exposure with a gradual accumulation in the child’s body, signs and symptoms of lead poisoning often mimic other problems.

What can be done if a child has lead poisoning?

  • Severely poisoned children are treated with a medication – chelation therapy – which requires hospitalization. This may reduce the level of lead in the body, but may not completely eliminate it.
  • The most important thing is to prevent exposure or prevent further exposure to lead.

Preventing Exposure

  • Be alert for chipping and flaking paint – inside and outside of the home
  • Watch what your child puts in their mouth – wash child’s toys and hands frequently
  • Clean window sills, floors and other dusty surfaces often
  • Provide a well-balanced diet that is high in iron, protein, and calcium
  • Use safe interior paints
  • Cover bare soil with grass or shrubs

Are you or your child at risk for lead poisoning? Answer the following:

Does the child…

  • Have siblings or playmates who have or did have lead poisoning?
  • Live in or frequently visit a house or daycare built before 1950?
  • Reside in or visit a house built before 1978 with recent or ongoing renovations within the last six months?
  • Eat or mouth non-food items – pica? (dirt, starch, clay, ashes, plaster)
  • Play or reside in a lead smelting area?
  • Receive unusual medicines or folk remedies?

Sources of Lead

Nationwide, lead-contaminated paint is the major source of lead poisoning. Chipped or peeling paint is easy for a young child to pick up and put into their mouths. Lead paint has been found on:

  • Windows and sills
  • Doors, frames, and sills
  • Walls and floors Stairs, railings, banisters
  • Woodwork, molding, and baseboards
  • Porches and fences
  • Toys and furniture
  • Soil can be contaminated by chips and dust from outside paint, lead-based insecticide, highway pollution
  • Water may be contaminated by lead water pipes, plumbing fittings, lead solder
  • Food can be contaminated if:
    • Grown near heavily traveled roads or other sources of lead pollution
    • Stored or baked in poorly glazed pottery
    • Prepared by someone with lead dust on their hands
    • Packaged in cans with lead seams
    • Stored in leaded crystal for long periods of time
  • Air can be contaminated from:
    • Exhaust from vehicles using leaded gas
    • Exhaust at lead smelters
  • Other Sources of Lead:
    • Dust from renovation
    • Antique Pewter
    • Drapery, window, and fishing weights
    • Battery casings
    • Some folk medicines and folk cosmetics
    • Vinyl mini blinds
    • Auto mechanic work
    • Bullet re-loading or target shooting
    • Hobby paint
    • Stained glass

How to know if a child has Lead Poisoning?

The only sure way to know if a child has lead poisoning is through a blood test. Moniteau County is considered a high-risk area for lead poisoning,pdf see a map of high-risk areas by clicking here. For children residing in a high-risk area these are the activities that shall occur:

  • Any child under the age of six years living in or visiting for 10 hours per week or more, the high-risk area, will be tested annually for lead.
  • Daycare facilities are required to record a “proof of lead testing” signed by the Health Care Provider performing the test within thirty (30) days of the child’s enrollment. If the parent/guardian does not provide it or a written statement stating why they do not want the child tested, the Daycare facility is to offer the parent assistance in scheduling a test.
  • Any child found to be at High-Risk, is living in a residence that was built before 1978, and is undergoing renovation, may be tested every six months and once following completion of the work. (Also applies to children found to be at high-risk in non-high-risk areas.)

Lead testing for children through age 6 is available at the Moniteau County Health Center. We provide testing daily during office hours. Please contact us prior to visit to determine availability of nurse. Results received within two weeks. A $10 donation is suggested if Missouri Health Net is not billed.

When necessary, environmental assessments will be conducted.