The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that “at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. There are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated.”
This raises concern because even low levels of lead in the blood have been directly associated with irreversible effects such as lower IQ and decreased ability to concentrate. Exposure to lead has also been shown to increase the risk of:
– Slowed growth and development
– Learning and behavioral problems
– Speech and hearing deficits
Children can become exposed to lead in several ways. Lead is a naturally occurring element that was once widely used in the manufacturing of paint, gasoline, as well as some toys and jewelry. Lead-based paint, used in homes and offices during the early and mid-20th century, is the most common source of exposure today. Old, chipping or cracking paint found in these homes can easily be eaten by children, and old paint can become dust and be inhaled.
As a safety precaution, any house built prior to 1978 should be inspected for the presence of lead paint as this can be a potential hazard to children and pregnant women. Remove any old, chipping or cracking paint from your home and have it tested for lead if you are unsure if it was made prior to 1978. If it is found that lead is present, it is highly recommended that you seek the assistance of a lead paint remediation expert.
There are other preventative measures you can take to reduce the risk of lead exposure, they include:
- Avoid using herbal remedies whose sources are unknown (Greta, Azarcon, Ghasard, Ba-baw-san and Daw Tway are all remedies from around the world that have been shown to contain lead).
- Do not use cookware or other food storage containers that have not been shown to be lead-free.
- Visit the US Consumer Product Safety Commission website and remove any toys or toy jewelry from your household that has been recalled.
- Make sure to wash clothes and bodies thoroughly after any known exposure to lead or lead dust (i.e. renovating an old home, working with stained glass)
If you believe your home may contain dangerous lead paint, contact your state or local health department about testing the paint and dust in your home for the presence of lead. If you have further questions regarding the testing of blood lead levels and the possible effects of elevated blood lead levels, you can visit the CDC website (https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/default.htm) or schedule an appointment with your primary care physician.
To schedule an appointment with a Family Medicine doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-6942
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.