Lead poisoning is preventable

Tobie Blanchard  |  10/26/2017 2:35:41 PM

(10/26/27) BATON ROUGE, La. – Even though lead has been banned from gasoline and paint since the 1970s, lead poisoning is still a big problem and affects millions of people. Claudette Reichel, LSU AgCenter housing specialist, said lead is harmful for everyone, but it’s even more dangerous to children and can cause lifelong problems.

“The good news is lead poisoning is preventable,” Reichel said. “With increased awareness, children across our nation can be spared the irreversible damage of lead poisoning.”

Oct. 23-27 is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, with the goal of raising awareness about lead dangers, how to prevent exposure and the importance of getting every young child screened for lead.

Reichel said there is no known safe level of lead exposure. Even very low levels can damage the brain and kidneys, as well as the reproductive, cardiovascular, circulatory and immune systems.

“Imagine how much more dangerous lead is for a child’s developing brain, causing a limited ability to learn and function, a reduced attention span and increased risk for behavioral problems,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention experts estimate the cost of lead exposure in the United States at more than $200 billion a year.

Lead can be found both inside and outside of the home, including in water or in the soil. Reichel said the most common source of exposure is lead-based paint used in homes before 1978. Children are most likely to be poisoned by breathing or swallowing lead-contaminated dust on their hands and toys with old paint that has eroded or chipped, or playing outside in lead contaminated soil, from gasoline fumes or paint removal.

Renovating older homes can pose a major lead exposure risk. Reichel said it’s important to take special care and use lead-safe work practices and hire only lead-safe certified firms. All contractors who work on pre-1978 homes are required to be certified.

“Knowledge is power – so learn more about how to protect children, and yourself, from lead poisoning,” she said.

Visit www.epa.gov/lead for free information and to find Lead-safe Certified Renovators. Also tour the LSU AgCenter’s LaHouse Resource Center on the Baton Rouge LSU campus to see healthy home features and exhibits and explore www.LSUAgCenter.com/LaHouse.

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