Tips for preventing childhood lead poisoning in your community

Help keep your child safe from lead poisoning by following these tips.

March 30, 2017 - Author: Jane Hart, Michigan State University and Noel Bigley, MSU Dietetic Intern

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood lead poisoning is a prevalent issue in Michigan affecting 0.49 percent of children under 72 months old. Childhood lead exposure can lead to serious health consequences, including brain and nervous system damage, delayed growth and development, learning and behavior disturbances and hearing and speech impediments. Children that are at the greatest risk of lead poisoning are:

  • those below the poverty level
  • of racial-ethnic minority groups
  • recent immigrants
  • living in under-maintained homes
  • those who have parents who are exposed to lead at work

Although, there is no specified blood lead level (BLL) for childhood lead poisoning, a BLL of ≥ 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) is the reference range used, based on the 97.5 percentile of children. Due to the fact that children are selected based on their risk factors, the sample is not representative of the entire population.

What you can do to help prevent childhood lead poisoning in your community:

Get your child screened for lead poisoning.

Even children, who appear to be healthy, may still have lead poisoning. It is important your child be tested for lead poisoning at least once a year.

Test your water supply.

In addition to testing your water supply, run your water for at least 15-30 seconds before drinking or cooking with it if your faucet has not been run in a few hours.

Thoroughly clean the surfaces in your home.

Apply general all-purpose cleaning solution with a disposable cloth to the surfaces within your home weekly to reduce the risk of lead exposure.

Keep your child from chewing old painted surfaces.

Use resources to learn how to safety remove lead!

Provide your child with a balanced diet.

Iron, calcium and vitamin C rich foods that are abundant in dairy, red meat, fruits and vegetables can help inhibiting lead absorption. Learn more tips on how you can provide your child with nutrient rich options at MyPlate website.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) offers a Lead Safe Home Program that may provide lead testing and lead hazard control services those who qualify. Help prevent childhood lead poisoning in your community and see if you qualify today!

If you would like more information about food safety, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

Tags: family, food & health, msu extension, safe food & water

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