(10/22/19) BATON ROUGE, La. — Even tiny amounts of lead can irreversibly damage a young child’s developing brain and other vital organs, potentially leading to lifelong health issues.
This week (Oct. 20 to 26) is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week — an initiative that aims to raise awareness of the importance of protecting kids from toxic lead.
“The good news is that lead poisoning is preventable when you know the facts and what you can do to protect children and yourself,” said Claudette Reichel, LSU AgCenter housing specialist. “Lead is hazardous for anyone, but children are at higher risk for lead poisoning because their developing bodies readily absorb lead, and they often put their hands and things in their mouths.”
Lead residue can be found in paint, household dust, soil, water, manufactured products and even the air. But the No. 1 source of lead poising is lead-based paint, Reichel said.
Most homes built before 1978 have contained lead-based paint at some point. Lead exposure is most often caused by swallowing or breathing in the dust created by old paint that has chipped or been disturbed during home remodeling or repairs, Reichel said.
It is important to hire only Lead-safe Certified firms to make repairs and renovations to homes built before 1978. A list of certified firms as well as information about lead-safe work practices is available at www.epa.gov/lead.
Children should be tested for lead even if they seem healthy, Reichel said. There are no visible symptoms of lead poisoning unless the level is extremely high, but a simple blood test can detect it.
Louisiana law requires healthcare providers to make sure every child between the ages of 6 months and 6 years is screened for lead, Reichel said. Children covered by Medicaid are eligible for free testing; private health insurance plans also usually pay for a lead test.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture