ALABAMA (WHNT) – Last week was officially recognized as “National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week,” dedicated to raising awareness about the poisonings in an effort to reduce childhood exposure to lead.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, “Childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children, yet in 2018, more than 300 children in Alabama under the age of 6 were identified with blood lead levels at or above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the reference level at which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends public health actions be initiated.”
Steven McDaniel, director for the lead branch of indoor air quality for ADPH says those who are most in danger when it comes to lead poisoning and exposure are kids and it can start as young as a year old.
“12 Months to six years old because they are the most vulnerable population,” McDaniel told News 19. “They’re the ones who suffer the life-long irreversible health effects.”
McDaniel said if your house was built pre-1978, lead could be hiding in the paint on your walls, doors and even the window seals.
“Your windows are at the three to three-and-a-half foot mark, which is easily accessible to kids. They’ll put their hands on it, touch it, even put their mouths on it,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel said just those repeated small amounts of exposure could be detrimental.
On average, about 1,000 kids under six in the state of Alabama under the age of six are affected by lead poisoning each year. Last year, the numbers totalled a little over 700. McDaniel said it’s because fewer kids were being tested for lead poisoning in 2020 due to the pandemic.
McDaniel says family and healthcare workers should stay aware and be better about testing young children.
“We just need to make sure that parents know they should get their children tested and pediatricians and the doctors know that they should test children especially in that vulnerable age for lead poisoning,” McDaniel stated.
However, ADPH has been working towards a more informed public by having weeks like this and things like The Lead Reduction Act, which gives the ADPH more say in contractors.
“The act requires all individuals that work on homes built pre 1978, to be certified through the department of public health to perform work on those lead-based paint homes,” McDaniel said.
Today, childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children.
“Once you start showing signs, whether it’s a stomach ache or even a learning disability it’s already too late,” said McDaniel, but he told News 19 there are ways you can prevent it.
“Make sure that you’ve been washing children’s hands, especially when they go outside to play, or when they’ve been crawling on the floor,” McDaniel continued. “Lead outside is a big high-risk factor for lead coming off your house and getting into the soil.”
Of course, you wouldn’t know just by looking at a deteriorating window seal or a flower bed, “I know there are a lot of people who think they can get rid of it on their own, but you can’t, “McDaniel said.
McDaniel if you suspect that there could be traces of lead, you can mop the affected area down and even put a barrier around the affected area, until you can get it taken care of.
If you think there is lead in your home, McDaniel says hire a lead certified contractor or inspector to come to remove the paint and it would be a good idea to get the soil tested around the home.
For more information on lead poisoning, its effects and what you can do to prevent it, click here.