Why is lead a concern
Childhood lead poisoning has been a concern for many years and the Center for Disease Control estimates that about 535,000 children in America contain enough lead within their bodies to place them at risk for being lead poisoned. Lead poisoning can contribute to health conditions such as behavioral and neurological effects, headaches, and reduction in IQ. Exposure to lead can occur when living in older homes (pre-1978), which may have been painted with lead-based paint on the inside and outside. Children could be exposed to it by breathing in lead dust or by ingesting it. Areas of the home become worn or deteriorate, like windows, doors, and siding, from daily contact of those surfaces, then the paint may flake and a fine dust is created that makes its way to the floors where small children come in easy contact with it. Children tend to have a lot of hand to mouth activity, where they can be exposed to lead dust. On the outside of the home, deteriorated paint can make its way to the soil, and in bare soil areas of the yard, children can easily be exposed through play and other activities.
The purpose of the lead investigation and education is to provide families with assistance in determining the potential source(s) of lead exposure in their home to help prevent further lead exposures and reduce the child’s lead level by eliminating potential sources in and outside of the home.
A child with an EBL will be referred to us through the Children's Mercy Medical Toxicologist. Staff and Children's Mercy Medical Toxicologist will work together to determine at what level of involvement CEH will play depending on the EBL level and help the family may have already received. If it is determined that CEH is to perform an investigation, the CEH Lead Coordinator will contact the family to go through a questionnaire that covers questions related to the home environment, health of the child, and nutrition. A team of two CEH EBL investigators will then coordinate an initial home visit with the family and possibly a local health department worker to go to the home where the child spends the most time to provide lead education and an inside and outside investigation of the home looking for lead hazard sources that may be present.
Environmental testing may be performed during the initial visit, which may include:
- Wipe samples of floors, windows, doors, walls, or other painted interior surfaces
- Paint chip sampling of exterior siding, windows, doors, or porches
- Soil samples collected from gardens, play areas or walkways
- Water samples
- Wipe samples of toys, spices, personal items (wallets, clothes, cell phone cases, boots)
The family will receive a detailed report of the investigation findings along with recommendations and action steps on addressing potential lead hazards that may be present. CEH will continue to work with the child’s physician, Children's Mercy Medical Toxicologist, health department(s), and other community organization(s) that may be involved to improve the health of the child through case management and to help coordinate additional lead blood testing that the child may need for monitoring purposes.