KDHE: Children at most risk for lead poisoning

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – It is International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is urging parents to be on the lookout for possible sources of lead in their home.

According to the KDHE, children are the most at risk for lead poisoning.

This is because they tend to crawl around on hands and knees and are more likely to put objects in their mouths. Children can absorb 40 to 50% of the lead they ingest.

Common sources of lead include:

  • Lead-based paints
    • Often found in homes built before 1978.
    • Paint can chip or create a dust both in and outside of the home which can be inhaled or eaten.
    • Can be found in soil and dirt from deteriorated led paint.
  • Foreign imports
    • Toys
    • Spices
    • Cosmetics
    • Candy
    • Home remedies
    • Check the FDA website for any recalls due to lead.
  • Secondary contact
    • Families members working certain jobs, such as construction, could be exposed to lead contamination and bring it home on their clothing and shoes.

While children are at a higher risk of lead poisoning, most children do not show any outward signs.

“Talk to your physician, your child’s physician about it, tell them your concern, what you think the potential source is, and the only way to know for sure is to have a blood test,” explained Farah Ahmed, State Epidemiologist & Environmental Health Officer for KDHE.

In 2012, the CDC changed the definition of what is considered elevated levels of lead in children. It used to be 10 micrograms per deciliter but, after discovering that even low levels of lead can affect children, it was lowered to five micrograms per deciliter.

This meant that the number of children with lead poisoning grew but the number of children being tested had declined.

Ahmed said the initial test is a small finger prick and if that comes back positive for high lead levels you should get a blood draw test.

Some ways to prevent lead exposure include:

  • Washing hands with soap and water
    • After being outside
    • Before eating
  • Mop floors and wipe window sills
    • Be sure to use a wet mop and wet wipes to clean. This will pick up rather than move into the air.
  • Vacuum regularly
    • Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter

The KDHE is looking for people to become certified as Elevated Blood Lead Inspectors. These people inspect and take samples from homes to help located possible lead contamination. No prior experience is necessary. Click here for more information.


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