(KUTV) Lead poisoning prevention week is October 22nd-28th. One of the big pushes this year is for children to get tested.
Children ages 1-5 are at the highest risk for lead. There’s long been concern that children are under tested for lead poisoning, and a new study conducted by the Public Health Institute and California Environmental Health Tracking Program shows that’s especially true in the west.
“Across the nation we’re only finding 64% of children who do have elevated blood lead levels. However, in the western states, we are only catching 22%,” says Nikki Campbell, Health Educator at the Utah Department of Health.
The only way to know if your child has been exposed, is by testing. Testing may sound scary, but it’s actually very simple. A child’s finger would be pricked, a small amount of blood would be collected in a cap0illary tube, and then it would be analyzed. After just a couple of minutes, you have an answer.
“Anything greater than or equal to 5 mcg/dL is considered elevated,” says Dr. Claudia Fruin.
Children should be tested at both their one and two-year well-child visits. If your child is at higher-risk, such as living in a home pre-1978, then it’s even more important.
“It is a federal law or mandate that kids who have Medicaid insurance get screened at age one and again at age two, and our state is not doing a very good job,” says Dr. Fruin.
Currently only about 20% of those kids are getting screened which is scary because lead poisoning affects a child’s brain, their behavior, as well as IQ score; and the damage done by lead, can be permanent.
“The good news is that lead poisoning is 100% preventable. A good rule of thumb is if you live in the west, get that test!” says Campbell.
For more information about lead poisoning, visit these sites:
UDEQ-Lead-Based Paint Program (https://deq.utah.gov/ProgramsServices/programs/air/lead/index.htm#contacts)