Get The Lead Out!

Risks to children are serious

(HealthDayNews) -- More than 80 percent of the U.S. homes built before 1978 still have lead-based paint in them. And the older the house is, the more likely it is to contain a higher concentration of lead in the paint, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lead, a highly toxic metal, may cause a range of health woes, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and death. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly.

Research suggests that the primary sources of lead exposure for most children are, in addition to deteriorating lead-based paint, lead-contaminated dust and lead-contaminated residential soil.

According to recent CDC estimates, 890,000 U.S. children ages 1-5 have elevated blood lead levels, and more than one-fifth of African-American children living in housing built before 1946 have elevated blood lead levels. Children between 12 months and 36 months old have a lot of hand to mouth activity, so if there is lead in their homes, they are more likely to ingest it than are older children.

Children at risk for lead exposure should have a blood test. If treatment is deemed necessary, it can prevent irreversible damage caused by lead poisoning.

Consumer News