Lead Poisoning

Lead Poisoning Prevention
Lead investigations and inspections are provided upon referral for a lead poisoned child. Lead is a heavy metal that was present in household paints used prior to 1978. Children exposed to lead are at risk to develop learning and behavior problems, lower IQ and delayed growth.

Lead Can Be a Poison
Lead is a metal that has been mined for thousands of years. In the past, it was used in many common items found in or near homes. Lead is highly toxic. It is important that every parent know where lead can be found, and how to control it.

What is Lead Poisoning?
When Lead enters the body, it can get into the blood and bones. Lead levels will go up if the person continues to be exposed to the lead source. Someone who has a venous blood lead level of 10mcg/dl or more is said to be lead poisoned, and needs follow-up from their physician.

As lead levels go up, so do the health risks. But even low lead levels can cause problems. Lead can affect a child’s ability to learn. It can also cause serious health problems and even death. When unborn babies are exposed to lead through their mothers, they are at risk of being born too small or too early.

Who Is at Risk?
Children and pregnant women are at greatest risk; however, anyone can acquire lead poisoning.
Lead poisoning in adults can cause memory problems, irritability, muscle and joint pain, problems getting pregnant, high blood pressure and digestive problems.

Where Is Lead Found?

Lead can be found in and outside of homes built before 1978, the greatest offending source is old lead paint. Other sources include:
  • Antique pewter
  • Drapery or window weights
  • Dust from a nearby building renovation
  • Dust or fumes from hobbies that use lead (such as making stained glass or pottery, refinishing furniture, or target practice)
  • Fishing weights
  • Imported plastic mini-blinds
  • Old batteries
  • Old, painted furniture
  • Work clothes and shoes

Who Should Be Tested?
Each child should have a blood test 3 times before the age of 3 years:
  • 12 months
  • 18 months
  • 24 months
The screening procedure involves a simple finger poke. Children between the ages of 36-60 months who are uninsured or receiving Medicaid or WIC should continue with annual blood lead tests through 60 months of age.

Ask your health care provider or your local WIC representative for children younger than 6 years of age about screening times and dates. For further information about lead and lead poisoning, contact the Greenfield Health Department or visit the EPA's website.