EPA "Prevention Week" Highlights the Importance of Lead Detection
The EPA is sponsoring a "National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week" to help keep kids lead-free. Fatal exposure to lead is becoming a rare occurrence and lead concentration in children's blood is decreasing. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that based on risk, most U.S. children should have their blood tested at least once for lead concentration. And with good reason—lead can negatively affect children’s health in a number of ways.
The National Library of Medicine found that exposure to lead has been linked to many types of cancer, anemia, infertility, nerve disorders, stomach aches, and muscle weakness. Even if lead poisoning does not occur, small concentration of lead in a child's blood can negatively affect IQ, cognitive skills, and learning ability.
Children can be exposed to lead from a number of different sources. Older homes and buildings constructed before the mid-1970s often have paint with high concentrations of lead. According to EPA, it is estimated that a quarter of U.S children live in housing with deteriorating lead paint. The first line of defense for preventing exposure is to keep paint in good condition and clean up any dust or chips. Make sure to regularly clean up painted surfaces in high traffic areas like doors, window sills, and floors weekly. Another good practice is to wash your children’s hands before they eat. A lead-based paint inspection of your home by a trained and certified professional using a method such as a portable x-ray fluorescence machine will determine if any lead is present without the need to remove a sample.
Another common source of lead exposure is in drinking water. Corrosion of plumbing materials allows lead to enter a home’s water source. While older plumbing is more likely to contain lead, even plumbing that is labeled “lead-free” is legally allowed to have as much as eight percent lead. The EPA has great resources to check the water quality report for your area.
Children can also be exposed to lead from painted toys, furniture, or jewelry. Fortunately, the Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates the presence of lead in these products by requiring manufacturers to certify that they do not contain unsafe levels of lead and to implement a reasonable production testing program to help keep children safe. Tips about some of the best practices for children’s product manufacturers and importers wanting to ensure proper lead detection can be found here.