National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week: What to know to keep your child safe
KENNEWICK, Wash. — It’s something you can’t see, taste or smell, but unfortunately, it can be detrimental to a child’s development.
According to the CDC, children living in 4 million U.S. households are being exposed to high levels of lead.
“The most significant risks from lead are the effects on the central nervous system,” said Dr. Amy Person with the Benton Franklin Health District. “It can affect brain development if you’re very young.”
Though it is possible to get lead poisoning from old water pipes, most commonly, lead exposure comes from interaction with lead-based paint, which is commonly found in homes built before 1978.
Other sources of lead exposure can include contaminated dirt and dust.
Unfortunately, lead poisoning can build up over months or years. The signs of lead poisoning often don’t appear until dangerous levels have accumulated.
Not only are kids the most sensitive to the negative effects of lead exposure, they are also the most susceptible.
“Kids like to put a lot of stuff in their mouths that’s not food and so that puts them at risk,” said Dr. Person. “They also tend to do a lot of mouth-to-hand kind of behavior.”
Dr. Person said in some cases high levels of lead can be “flushed out” with medication. However, prevention is key. Doctors recommend getting children tested as toddlers, especially if they live in an older home.
For more information on lead exposure, click here.