Lead poisoning is the number one environmental disease affecting American children less than six years of age, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Estimated 900,000 children ages one-to-five have blood lead levels at or above the level of concern established by the CDC. Lead exposure can cause irreversible harm to young children, babies, and foetuses. Adding to the concern is the fact that most children with elevated blood lead levels do not have overt, easily identifiable symptoms.
Lead is a naturally occurring element that is highly toxic to humans of all ages when taken into the body through ingestion or inhalation. However, lead is most hazardous to young children, whose still-developing brains and nervous systems are particularly vulnerable to lead. Low levels of lead exposure in children can produce permanent nervous system damage, including reduction of intelligence and attention span, reading and learning disabilities, and behaviour problems. Very high levels of lead exposure can cause mental retardation, coma, convulsions, and even death.
The good news is that lead poisoning is preventable, and childcare programs play an important role. Children most at risk of lead poisoning are those who live in homes or frequent places, such as childcare facilities, that were built before 1978. In 1978, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the sale and distribution of residential lead-based paint. Approximately 75 percent of the nation's housing stock built before 1978 (approximately 64 million dwellings) contain some lead-based paint. Many childcare facilities, both centres and home-based, may have lead-based paint.
The most common cause of childhood lead exposure is ingesting lead-contaminated dust. This dust may be created by deteriorating paint, contaminated soil, or renovation activities with improper removal of lead-based paint. The lead-contaminated dust then gets on children's hands and toys and into their bodies through normal hand-to-mouth activity. Also, children may eat lead-based paint chips from window sills, furniture, or walls with chipping, peeling, or flaking paint.
Children in childcare programs also may be exposed to lead through outdoor activities. Soil and dust in the play area may be contaminated by industrial emissions or by emissions from automobiles that still use leaded gasoline. Also, "front yard car repair" activities could contaminate yard soil.
The health professionals may use this information in curing the affected children and also in spreading awareness about this harmful material.
This article is different from other articles because it not only states the causes of the lead ...