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Protecting Our Children From Exposure to Lead

2010 October 14

By Lina Younes

During my youngest daughter’s yearly check up, the nurse asked the traditional lead screening questions regarding possible exposures to lead. “Does my child live in or regularly visit a home, child care or building built before 1950?” “Does my child live or regularly visit a home or child care built before 1978?” “Does my child spend time with anyone that has a job or hobby where they may work with lead?” and several more. Luckily, I was able to answer “no” to all the lead screening questions. However, the questions highlighted the fact that there are multiple possibilities of exposure in addition to lead-based paint.

Childhood lead poisoning remains a major environmental health problem in the United States. Exposure to this toxic metal can harm young children and babies even before they are born. Exposure to high levels of lead can damage the developing brain and nervous system of young children, plus cause serious behavior and learning problems. For years, the main source of lead exposure has been lead-based paint or dust particles from lead-based paint. Although the federal government banned the use of lead in paint in 1978, many homes built before the ban may still have remnants of lead-based paint.

What are some of the other sources of lead? Well, pottery and ceramics made in other countries may have lead. Some folk remedies like greta and azarcón which may be used to treat stomach ailments may also have lead. Furthermore, we’ve also heard of other problems with lead in some imported toys and children’s jewelry.

So, what do you do if you think your child might have been exposed to this toxic metal? Does your child show behavioral problems or developmental problems? The first step to allay your concerns will be to have your child tested for possible lead poisoning. A simple blood test will indicate the course to follow.

During National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week help us to spread the word so we all can protect our children.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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9 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    October 14, 2010

    Immunity. Several babies and children in my country need milk, foods and also supplements because their parents were poor. Many doctors just reach the kids in the city and suburbs, not to the villages. Babies don’t choose to stay in the city where their parents didn’t stay there. Do you see our babies drink porridge of rice that their mom imagine it is milk ?

  2. Magento Templates permalink
    October 15, 2010

    I like your blog and such a useful information sharing. I appreciate your blog and thanks for that.

  3. Lina-EPA permalink
    October 15, 2010

    Thanks for your kind words. Please visit Greenversations regularly and send us your comments.

  4. denial permalink
    October 16, 2010

    Oh. That’s a serious issue. Children really need to take care of these. When I was reading initially I did not make myself understand but got clear after that.

  5. J. Kleine permalink
    October 16, 2010

    Although screening children for potential lead poisoning is an extremely important measure in reducing exposure to and increasing awareness for lead poisoning, it is evident that more steps need to be taken to prevent children and adults from exposure to this toxic metal. As lead can be found in everyday household items, such as pottery, toys, jewelry, remedies, and old paint, it is crucial for the industries in charge of producing and distributing these items to be held at a higher standard for such products. Manufacturers must be more stringently regulated to ensure that human health and the environment are being adequately protected.

    Lead is an element that cannot be broken down within the environment and can be found in our air, soil, food, drinking water and notably, in certain household products. Therefore, it is necessary to take measures to reduce the release of lead into the environment at the source of the problem: industry. Furthermore, lead concentrations have the potential to travel great distances through natural systems of the environment, such as the water cycle, and causes lead exposure to be a problem of global concern. By restricting American industry from putting lead into the environment, we can ensure that America is doing our part in protecting its children and future generations from the devastating effects of lead exposure.

  6. Lina-EPA permalink*
    October 18, 2010

    Dear J. Kleine,
    Thanks for your comments. Help us get the word out.

  7. Angela Trelstad permalink
    November 8, 2010

    Thank you very much. Very informative.


  8. Mike Freije permalink
    April 28, 2011

    Children really need to take care of these. I appreciate your blog and thanks for that.

  9. permalink
    September 2, 2013

    We should all be so think.

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