CHILDHOOD LEAD POISONING
Environmental Health Action Guide- compiled and maintained by the Sustainable Cleveland Partnership and NeighborhoodLink
Five months after Jim and Marge moved into their dream home, their five year old daughter Carol's blood lead level was 25 micrograms per deciliter, more than twice the level of concern for children. Jim and Marge are now confronting many questions: Where did the lead come from? How can they get it cleaned up? Why was Carol not showing any symptoms of lead poisoning? They are, however, thankful to their friend Mike who works for the city’s lead abatement program and on whose suggestion they got their 110-year old house and Carol tested for lead.
Tests indicated that there was lead everywhere in the house at levels of serious concern. The soil outside the house also contained significant amounts of lead. Mike told Jim and Marge of a new federal law that requires owners of homes built before 1978 to inform buyers and renters about known lead hazards on their property in addition to providing information brochures on lead poisoning. How can Jim and Marge better address pediatric lead poisoning in their family?
Find out what you can do to ensure your children are safe from lead?
DO YOU KNOW?
* Environmental Health Watch
Health problems associated with lead poisoning:
For more information about health problems associated with lead poisoning, access EDF’s Chemical Scorecard.
Symptoms of lead poisoning:
Most children don’t show any symptoms of lead poisoning at all so its damaging effects go unnoticed. Therefore, it is important to get your child's blood tested.
Common Sources of Lead Poisoning:
Lead In Paint: Lead paint was used in almost all homes built before the 1950s and many homes built before 1978. It may also have been used on your older toys and furniture. This paint can chip off and be eaten by children.
Lead In Dust: Dust from deteriorating lead paint, or paint that is removed unsafely, can have lead in it. This dust can coat almost anything in the home, especially windowsills.
Lead In Dirt: Soil may have lead in it from dust, chipped paint, and air pollution. Children come into contact with this lead by playing in dirt and putting their dirty hands in their mouths. Lead is a serious problem in dirt throughout the Cleveland area.
Lead In Food: Food grown in soil with lead in it, stored in imported containers with lead in it (some china), or prepared by people with lead on their hands.
Lead In Water: Water that runs through old pipes, plumbing, and fixtures found in some old homes may pick up lead. This is generally not a problem in Cleveland however.
Cleveland residents contact the Cleveland Department of Public Health’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 216/664-2175 for information and referrals on lead testing and prevention programs.
Contact Environmental Health Watch at 216/961-4646, a Cleveland-based organization providing local information on lead poisoning and clean up.
Cuyahoga County residents contact the Cuyahoga County Board of Health’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 216/443-7500 for information on lead testing and prevention programs.
Ohioans contact the Ohio Department of Health’s Ohio Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 800/554-7447 for information on state lead programs.
Contact US EPA Region 5 Lead Coordinator at 312/886-6003 for general information on lead poisoning and federal lead prevention and abatement programs.
Contact the Consumer Products Safety Commission at 800/638-2772 for information on lead in popular consumer products, including toys and household goods.
Everyone contact the National Lead Information Center at 800/LEAD-FYI for lead poisoning information.
Contact APPLE - Associated Parents to Prevent Lead Poisoning at 216/664-2455 for information on lead poisoning, support networks for parents of lead-poisoned children, and more.
Contact the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning at 202/543-1147, a national advocacy organization that supports nationwide policies to fight lead poisoning.
Full mailing addresses and phone numbers of organizations listed on this factsheet are available in this Guide's Directory of Organizations.
Tips for keeping your child and home lead safe:
Get Children Tested: All children should be tested for lead poisoning at age six to nine months, and yearly until age six. Call your doctor or health care provider to have your child tested, or call the Cleveland Department of Public Health’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 216/664-2175 to find out where you can get your child tested. Cuyahoga County residents outside Cleveland call the Cuyahoga County Board of Health’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 216/443-7500 for testing information.
Get Your Home Tested: If your child tests high for lead poisoning, the city and county will test your home for free. Call the Cleveland Department of Public Health’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 216/664-2175 for information. Cuyahoga County residents call the Cuyahoga County Board of Health’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 216/443-7500 for testing information. However, if you cannot have your home tested for free, private testing can be expensive. If you suspect your home has lead hazards, take the steps mentioned below to reduce the problem, or call the National Lead Information Center at 800/LEAD-FYI for information on reducing lead hazards in your home.
Clean Up Lead Hazards: If your home has lead paint, clean floors, windowsills, window frames, and other surfaces regularly with water and powdered dishwasher detergent. Regular detergent does not work as well.
Safely Remove Paint Chips: Safely clean up paint chips immediately. It is important that you clean up this hazard safely because you could make the problem worse. Contact the National Lead Information Center at 800/LEAD-FYI for information on safely removing paint chips from your home. If you rent, contact your landlord about repairing or repainting damaged or chipped paint surfaces.
Know Your Rights: The federal Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Rule requires that buyers and renters of most housing built before 1978 be given information on possible lead-based paint hazards in the home. For information on your right to lead-safe rental housing, contact Cleveland Tenants Organization at 216/621-0540.
Keep Play Areas Clean: Keep your children’s play area clean. Children should play in grassy areas rather than in bare dirt because lead collects in dirt. Wash toys and pacifiers often.
Keep It Outside: If you come into contact with lead at work, shower and change your work clothes before you come home. Also, dirty shoes can bring lead into the home. Clean or remove shoes before entering the house.
Wash Your Hands: Children should always wash their hands and face before eating.
Eat A Healthy Diet: Children who eat nutritious, low-fat meals high in iron and calcium will absorb less lead. Suggested foods include milk, cheese, green vegetables, lean meat, poultry, fish, peanut butter, cereals, and more. Call the Cleveland Department of Public Health’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 216/664-2175 for dietary information and suggestions.
Contact Local Elected Officials: Write or call asking them to support strong policies and laws to prevent lead poisoning in Children.
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