Lead can also be found in the ground being stirred up during remodeling or construction and breathed into the lungs. In addition, a large majority of our older housing is occupied by young families, including landlord/tenant situations. Those environments often contain lead-based paint hazards that young families and children are exposed to.
Parents should make sure that their homes are free of lead paint. In Iowa lead testing is required prior to a child’s entry into kindergarten. A simple and inexpensive blood test can determine whether or not a child has a dangerous level of lead in his or her body. The test can be obtained through a physician or Marion County Public Health.
Early identification and treatment of lead poisoning reduces the affects of lead poisoning. Unfortunately, the damage caused by lead poisoning to a developing child is largely irreversible and children are caused permanent damage and disabilities that will last their entire lifetime or can even cause death at very high levels. Treatment begins with removal of the child from the sources of the lead. Treatment or dietary modifications can remove lead from the body but once the damage is done it can’t be reversed. That is why prevention is so important.
If your home was built before 1978:
• It is important to determine the construction year of the house or the dwelling where your child may spend a large amount of time (e.g., grandparents or daycare). In housing built before 1978, assume that the paint has lead unless tests show otherwise.
• Talk to Marion County Environmental Health about testing paint and dust from your home for lead or abatement of lead sources.
• Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
• Pregnant women and children should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation. They should not participate in activities that disturb old paint or in cleaning up paint debris after work is completed.