Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention
SOURCES OF LEAD
Lead is a heavy metal which has had a long and varied use in human society. Its use has ranged from making eating and drinking utensils out of it to using it for medicinal purposes. In the 20th century, its greatest uses were probably as an additive to gasoline and paints. Lead was essentially eliminated from gasoline in the US at the end of the 70's and in 1978, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of lead in paint at levels above .06%. However, a large portion of the residential housing units in the US, built before 1978, still contain significant levels of lead-based paint or lead-laden dust or soil contaminated as a result of lead-based paint use. Other sources of lead include:
- Ceramic pottery
- Commercial paints
- Industrial Plastics (e.g. mini blinds)
- Food cans
- Plumbing (e.g. solder)
- Dyes and coloring agents
- Brass Ammunition
- Old and new painted toys
- Leisure (chalk, fishing weights)
Lead is a toxin to the human body. It is acquired by ingesting or breathing and can then be absorbed into the bloodstream where its effects can be broad. Children with elevated blood lead levels of only 10 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dl) may suffer adverse effects on their learning abilities. Higher levels can cause increased learning disabilities, behavioral problems, slowed growth, kidney and brain damage, and in severe cases, coma or death. Adults are also affected by high blood lead levels including reproductive organ damage, central nervous system damage, miscarriage, and high blood pressure.
DOES ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH CONDUCT LEAD INVESTIGATIONS?
Yes, but only for the following situations:
If a child has been diagnosed with an Elevated Blood Lead Level (10ug/dl - 19ug/dl), an investigation is offered but not required
If a child has been diagnosed with a Poisoned Blood Lead Level (20ug/dl or higher), an investigation is required by North Carolina State Law
If a child occupied facility such as a school or child care facility is suspected of having any lead hazards such as peeling paint
WHAT IF I WANT TO GET MY HOME TESTED FOR LEAD?
If you suspect a lead hazard is present in your home, call the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (828)771-5821 for a home inspection. This service is provided free of charge in homes where children under six reside. This program also offers kits to test for lead in soil, dust and drinking water. Call (828)771-5821 to request lead testing kits.
HOW DO I REMOVE ANY LEAD HAZARDS PRESENT IN MY HOME?
Beginning April 22, 2010, federal law requires that contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb more than six square feet of paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and trained to follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.