Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention
Although children with lead poisoning may not show any signs or symptoms, lead poisoning can cause headaches, stomach pain, anemia, decreased growth and hearing, damage to vital organs, intellectual disabilities, and behavioral problems such as hyperactivity. Lead poisoning is 100% preventable! That is why it’s so important that EVERY CHILD BE TESTED. All children regardless of race, economic background, or location of home should be tested for lead poisoning starting at 12 months. The testing is then recommended at different intervals for different children with regards to risk of lead exposure. See a public health professional to determine when and how often your children should be tested.
How do I get my child tested?
The only way to detect lead poisoning is with a blood test (finger prick or blood draw). Call our department at 641-421-9324 to schedule an appointment for your child.
How is my child getting poisoned by lead?
In our area, the most common cause of lead poisoning is lead-based paint. Even though the manufacturing and sale of lead-based paint for residential use ended in 1978, many homes and buildings still have lead paint. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, roughly 70 percent of homes in Iowa were built before 1978. Lead-based paint is a hazard to your child if it is chipping, peeling and flaking. Even lead paint that is in good condition, but on a friction surface (such as a window), impact surface (such as a door frame), or chewable surface (window sill), is a hazard to your child. Children can also be poisoned by breathing in dust from lead-based paint that is disturbed (home renovation/construction) or playing in dirt/soil that is contaminated with lead-based chips. Lead has a sweet taste, which is why children like to eat it. Lead in water is not a common source of lead poisoning for children.
What can I do if my child has an elevated level of lead?
A health official with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) will work with your family to obtain re-checks of your child’s blood lead level, obtain services such as developmental testing, nutritional counseling, and if needed, obtain the services of a lead inspector. The public health official becomes the family’s link to all the services that your child will need.
Do I need a home inspection?
If your child is identified as being lead poisoned, a lead inspection must be conducted in dwellings where your child spends 10 hours or more per week. A machine called an XRF is used to check the house/building surface by surface for lead paint. This piece of equipment, much like an x-ray machine, can penetrate through several layers of paint and let the family know if lead paint is present. This inspection along with a visual inspection of the house surfaces will provide good education to the family on how to repair their home to make it safe for children.
Can I request a home inspection without a child who has lead poisoning?
Yes! If your home is located in Cerro Gordo County, we will conduct a lead inspection in your residence, free of cost at your request. Contact our Environmental Health Department at 641-421-9339 to learn more.
Did you know?
Lead is a heavy metal that is used in many materials and products such as: paint, stained glass windows, sinkers, bullets, etc. It can be found in lead-glazed pottery, home remedies, toys/jewelry, or candy from Mexico or Southeast Asia. Lead is a naturally occurring metal and does not break down in the environment. Once lead has been deposited in the environment, it stays there to impact generation after generation. Children are more sensitive and at-risk to lead than adults; although adults can be exposed to lead most commonly through work (painting, battery, recycling industries) or hobbies (making pottery, staining glass, fishing, or shooting at gun ranges). Pregnant women should take extra measures to protect themselves from lead exposure. Safety guidelines should be followed if remodeling or renovating lead-based painted surfaces (See IDPH’s “Lead Poisoning: How to Protect Iowa Families” for more information).
Tips to Prevent Lead Poisoning:
*Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention & Iowa Department of Public Health
For more information on lead, visit these resources: