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Lead Poisoning Still a Problem for Many Children

Of the 24 million homes in the U.S. that contain lead-based paint and levels of lead-contaminated house dust, four million are home to young children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly a half million children living in the United States have blood lead levels high enough to damage their health. 
Lead is a neurotoxin. It is harmful to all individuals and there is no safe blood lead level in children.
It is particularly harmful to the nervous systems of developing fetuses and young children. It can harm a child’s brain, kidneys, bone marrow, and other body systems. It can cause a reduction in IQ, impaired learning ability, reading and learning disabilities, and behavior problems. 
In 2020, 4,561 children were screened in the West Central Health District.  Of those children, 93 had blood levels between 5-9 ug/dL, and 16 had levels at >=10ug/dL.  Muscogee County continues to be one of the highest risk counties in the state.  “Lead Poison Prevention Week allows us to raise awareness and remind parents and the public that it’s still a problem,” said April Kennedy, Regional Lead and Healthy Homes Coordinator at the Columbus Department of Public Health.  
The most common source of exposure for children is from lead-based paint, which was used in many homes built before 1978. Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by breathing in lead dust (especially during activities such as renovations, repairs, or painting) or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, eating paint chips, soil that contains lead, or other places. 
 Here are some simple things you can do to help protect your family:
• Get your home tested.  If you are living in, renting, or buying a home built before 1978, get a lead inspection.
• Have your child tested.  If you think your child may have been exposed to lead, even if your child seems healthy, ask your doctor to test them for lead. The most common symptom is a change in behavior.  Other symptoms include decreased appetite, fatigue, vomiting, headaches, and abdominal pain.  
For more information, contact April Kennedy, Regional Lead and Healthy Homes Coordinator at 706-321-6175 or April.Kennedy@dph.ga.gov 
Or call the National Lead Information Center, 1-800-424-LEAD 
or visit https://dph.georgia.gov/lead-education-and-faqs