Childhood Lead Poison Prevention
The Shiawassee County Health Department screens, identifies and refers children with lead poisoning to their medical provider for treatment. Public health nurses provide follow-up for children with high lead levels in cooperation with medical providers. We also perform blood lead screenings for adults upon request.
For more information, please see Lead Levels in Children FAQ.
What is the problem?
Approximately 310,000 U.S. children aged 1-5 years have blood lead levels greater than 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, the level at which Center for Disease Control recommends public health actions be initiated.
Lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead poisoning often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and, at very high levels, seizures, coma, and even death.
How are children exposed to lead?
The major source of lead exposure among U.S. children is lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. However, approximately 24 million housing units in the United States have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust. More than 4 million of these dwellings are homes to one or more young children.
Other sources of lead poisoning are related to:
Who is at risk?
Can lead poisoning be prevented?
Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. The key is stopping children from coming into contact with lead and treating children who have been poisoned by lead.
What can the public and parents do to reduce blood lead levels?
Remember, most children with lead poisoning do not look sick. The only way to know for sure is to have them tested. All children under six years, should be tested once a year. It is important to prevent and treat lead poisoning because it can do permanent harm. It can cause brain damage, hearing and speaking problems, learning problems and lower I.Q. It can cause behavior problems, shortened attention span and hyperactivity. Lead poisoning can even cause death. Your child's doctor, family health center, or a clinic can do a simple blood test. You can get the results in about two weeks.