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Making Homes Lead-Safe Takes Too Long After Exposure

Fewer than one in five children have homes made lead-safe within six months

MONDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- It takes a median of 465 days to make homes lead-safe after a child is found to have elevated blood-lead levels, according to the results of a Wisconsin study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health. This time lag needs to be reduced, and authorities should more firmly enforce lead abatement orders, the authors write.

Kristina M. Zierold, Ph.D., of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues calculated the time required to make homes lead-safe for 382 Wisconsin children aged 6 or younger who had blood lead levels of 20 to 40 micrograms per deciliter between 1996 and 1999.

The researchers found that it took a median of 465 days to make a home lead-safe. For 18 percent of the children, homes were made lead-safe in six months or less; but for 45 percent of the children, it took more than 18 months to make their home lead-safe.

"Efforts are needed to reduce the time it takes to make a home lead-safe," the authors write. "Although abatement orders always include time limits, improved compliance with the orders must be enforced. Greater emphasis should be placed on securing lead-safe or lead-free housing for families, thus reducing lead exposure."

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