Saturday, 25 May 2024

Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is Oct. 19 through 25

LAKE COUNTY – This week the spotlight is being placed on the dangers lead can hold for children's health.


Sunday, Oct. 19 through Saturday, Oct. 25 is Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.


Lead poisoning may have contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. It caused Beethoven’s erratic behavior, his death and maybe even his deafness. It is lead poisoning, and it still affects children throughout California.


Lead can damage a child’s brain and nervous system. It's especially dangerous for children under age 6 because their rapidly growing and developing bodies absorb more lead. This can cause permanent learning and behavioral problems that make it difficult for children to succeed in school.


The 2007 Census indicates there were approximately 4,094 children under the age of 5 and more than 10,000 children enrolled in grades kindergarten through 12 in Lake County.


School statistics show that 60 Lake County children ages 7 through 15 were identified having emotional disturbances and 589 children ages 5 to 18 have specific learning disabilities. Lead exposure may play a part in these behavioral and learning problems.


A blood lead test is the only way to know if a child has lead poisoning. Most children at highest risk are those who live or spend time in older housing built before 1978 which may have deteriorating lead-based paint and lead-contaminated soil and dust.


Health officials say children should be tested at both 1 and 2 years of age. Also, children 3 to 6 years old who are at risk should also have a blood lead test.


Parents can talk to their child’s doctor about getting tested for lead. According to data provided by Lake County Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait,152 blood lead tests were done in Lake County detecting one elevated lead level.


If an average of 200 young children are screened annually, at best only about 25 percent of the population can be reached. With the local prevalence of lead levels estimated at about 0.6 percent, the county should expect to have roughly 25 children under age 5 with lead poisoning.


Common sources of childhood lead poisoning include handmade ceramic tableware, especially imported pieces decorated with lead-based glaze or paint. Traditional home remedies can include Azarcon, Greta and Pay-loo-ah. Traditional cosmetics can contain Kohl and Surma.


Increasing amounts of imported toys, candies and food products are entering our country. Web sites such as www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/Recalls/allhazards.htm, www.HealthyToys.org; www.calpoison.org or www.calpoison.org provide names of manufacturers and products to be avoided or which are safe to buy.


Work clothes, shoes and workers themselves are often exposed to lead if working with lead smelting, making or recycling batteries and repairing radiators. Parents can change into clean clothes and shoes before getting into their cars or going home. Dirty clothes and shoes can be bagged and washed separately from all other clothes with running the empty washing machine again after the work clothes to rinse the lead out.


When painting or remodeling, always follow lead-safe work practices: use plastic sheeting on the ground and furniture while working; wet surfaces before sanding and scraping; and wet mop the area at the end of the day. Never dry scrape, dry sand or use a heat gun to remove lead-based paint as these create dangerous dust and fumes.


Washing one’s face and hands with soap and water before leaving work and then taking a shower and washing one’s hair, preferably at work or as soon as you get home, is recommended. Parents and caregivers can all help to prevent childhood lead poisoning by wiping clean or taking off shoes before entering the home.


Washing children’s hands and toys is always a good idea. Good nutrition helps children’s bodies resist lead poisoning. Each day children need to be served three meals and two healthy snacks which include calcium-rich foods like milk, cheese, yogurt and tofu. Iron-rich foods include lean meats, beans, whole grain cereals, dried fruit and dark green vegetables. Vitamin C rich foods such as fresh, canned or frozen fruits and WIC fruit juices are recommended.


Children who receive services from Medi-Cal, Child Health and Disability Prevention or Healthy Families are eligible for free testing. Private health insurance plans will usually pay for the test.


To find out about eligibility for Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, call Lake Family Resource Center at 262-1611or toll free, 888-775-8336.


Contact the Lake County Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at Easter Seals, 263-3949, for more information about childhood lead poisoning prevention and intervention.


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