Health Alert: Lead poisoning

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va.(WDTV) -- Welcome back to Health Alert, exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health. Joining us tonight concerning National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is Dr. Mary-Ann Kroll, a pediatrician with Pediatric Associates in Bridgeport.

Question: Doctor with approximately half a million U.S. children having blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, can lead poisoning be prevented?

Answer: So, the key is to keep children from coming in contact with lead. If children are lead poisoned, they must be treated. There are many ways parents can reduce children’s exposure to lead before they are harmed. Lead hazards in a child’s environment must be identified and controlled or removed safely. Lead is invisible to the naked eye and has no smell.

Question: What are some common ways children come in contact with lead?

Answer: Young children often put toys, fingers, and other objects in their mouth as part of their normal development. This may put them in contact with lead paint or dust.

One common way children can be exposed to lead are chips and particles of old lead paint. Children can be directly exposed to lead from paint if they swallow paint chips. However, exposure is more common from swallowing house dust or soil contaminated by leaded paint. This happens when lead paint chips get ground into tiny bits that become part of the dust and soil in and around homes; for example, when leaded paint is old or worn or is subject to constant rubbing (as on doors and windowsills and wells). In addition, lead can be scattered when paint is disturbed during destruction, remodeling, paint removal, or preparation of painted surfaces for repainting.

Question: Tell us more specifically what items in our everyday life that we come in contact with that contain lead?

Answer: 30% of lead-poisoned children in certain areas across the United States may have been poisoned by other sources. These include:
• Imported candies;
• Imported toys and toy jewelry;
• Imported cosmetics;
• Pottery and ceramics;
• Drinking water contaminated by lead leaching from lead pipes, solder, brass fixtures, or valves; and
• Consumer products, including tea kettles and vinyl miniblinds.
A variety of work and hobby activities expose adults to lead, including using an indoor firing range, making home repairs, remodeling a home, and making pottery. When adults whose jobs expose them to lead wear their work clothes home or wash them with the family laundry, their families can be exposed to lead. Families can also be exposed when adults bring scrap or waste material home from work.

Question: What can be the results of lead poisoning?

Answer: Lead can lead to:
• Damage to the brain and nervous system
• Slowed growth and development
• Learning and behavior problems
• Hearing and speech problems
• Lower IQ
• Decreased ability to pay attention
• Underperformance at school

If you think your child has been in contact with lead, contact your child’s health care provider. He or she can help you decide whether to test your child’s blood to see if it has high levels of lead.

A blood lead test is the only way to find out if your child has a high lead level. Most children with high levels of lead in their blood have no symptoms.

Your child’s health care provider can recommend treatment if your child has been exposed to lead.