Last week, I attended an all day seminar for Children's Environmental Health Training. Lead was once again a huge topic. Last night, I got to thinking it was time I posted about lead exposure and your kids. Please read on for sources of lead exposure, the effects lead has on our families health and finally tips for an Ounce of Prevention.
When a child or anyone tests high for lead exposure, finding the source of the lead is critical.
Toxic levels can be created by volume x frequency. Sometimes the exposure can be small amounts of lead from multiple sources or one source with consistent exposure. You can also have a one time high level exposure.
Common Sources of lead:
Houses built before 1978 (paint, varnishes, window and door sills)
Soil (smelt plants and leaded gas residues)
Shooting ranges (shot-bullets)
Weights (golf, curtain, lifting, fishing sinkers)
Garden hoses (the insides switch to white drinking hoses or run water through before use)
Imported foods and spices (sometimes even US products)
Antique -painted furniture
If you have a small child it is a good idea to get a blood lead level test. The ideal blood level would be zero ug/dl. There are no safe levels. The average level is 2ug/dl. A child's body is developing, this developmental time is a critical time to protect your child. Keeping a look out for exposure to lead is one of the best gifts you can give your child. "One out of every 40 American Children has too much lead in his or her body. The rate of lead poisoning is even higher in cities"
Blood lead levels of less than 10ug/dl can cause these health problems:
Increased Behavioral problems
Decreased learning ability
Decreased attention span
Decreased test scores
Decreased motor skills
"Damage can be irreversible, affecting children throughout their lives"
High blood pressure
Hazardous to pregnant women - damages the baby
I hover between not wanting to instill fear and wanting to educate for a healthy family. In the case of lead, finding high lead blood levels and removing the sources is the side I landed on. An ounce of prevention is the best medicine.
An Ounce of Prevention Tips:
Wash hands after playing in the soil and before eating
Know when your home was built. Either have a certified renovator test or use the lead check kit from http://www.leadcheck.com/ (follow instructions very carefully)
1978 or older: test for lead before doing any remodeling, changing windows or painting.
1978 or older: damp dust, vacuum with HEPA filtered vacuum
1978 or older: clean up any paint chips around windows and doors. Lead is sweet children may eat the sweet paint chips or suck on window sills
Install effective and large entry mats to every entrance to home and take off shoes
Install water filters
Test children for blood lead levels, Especially, when kids are crawling and on the ground a lot.
As always, wishing you a healthy home and family,
Certified Healthy Home Specialist and Renovator
Sources: Healthy home Essentials course, Lead Safety for Renovation, Repair and Painting and Children's Environmental Health Training