Lead poisoning has been dubbed as the silent epidemic because of its increased prevalence worldwide. According to recent statistics, about three to four million young children suffer from lead poisoning. This type of poisoning is more common among children under six years old, affecting 1 in every 6 children.
One major problem is that most parents are unaware that their child has lead poisoning. Often, it is too late when they have their child tested. High levels of lead in the child’s blood can cause major health problems that include:
- Mental retardation
- Brain damage
- Behavioral and cognitive problems
- Hearing loss
- Kidney and liver damage
- Delayed development
Extreme cases of lead poisoning can also cause death, especially when not treated immediately.
What is Lead?
Lead is a toxic metal that is commonly found in the earth’s crust. Because of its abundance, physical properties and cheap cost, the compound has been used as an aggregate for a wide variety of products including ceramics, paint, solders, pipes, batteries, gasoline, and even cosmetics.
Today, lead can be found in contaminated soil, dust, air and the paint of some buildings and homes built before the 80’s. Lead can also be found in small amounts in drinking water, lead-glazed pottery and lead crystal.
Is your child suffering from lead poisoning?
The only way to diagnose lead poisoning is through a blood test. Parents are highly encouraged to have their child tested for presence of lead in blood starting at 6 months until 24 of age, especially for children who are at risk of lead exposure. For example, if you live in a house built before 1960 and has chipping or peeling paint. Further tests may be conducted depending on the result of blood-lead test.
The test detects and measures the amount of lead present in the blood. You can consult your pediatrician to make necessary arrangements for the test.
How to keep your child safe from lead poisoning?
Here are some safety tips on how you can reduce a child’s exposure to lead:
- Make sure children have no access to peeling or chipping surfaces or chewable surfaces with lead-based paint.
- Vacuuming hard surfaces can cause dust to scatter. Wet mop or wipe hard surfaces instead.
- Wash children’s faces and hands before eating.
- Keep toys and pacifiers always clean by frequently washing it.
- Consult your local health department about lead-testing dust and paint in your home.
- Children should not stay in houses built before 1980’s that is undergoing repair or renovation.
- Create barriers in between lead sources and living or play areas.
- Keep your environment clean and eliminate all possible sources of lead.
- Regularly wet wipe window and wet mop floors.
- Remind children not to play in bare soil. If possible, have them play in sandboxes.
- Make sure children eat nutritious meals, especially calcium and iron, as they help clean the body off these wastes.
- If the soil in your home is likely to be contaminated with lead, put ground cover such as planting grass or adding a layer of sand or gravel.
To learn more about household poisons and preventing your child from coming into contact with harmful chemicals enrol in a first aid course with a Red Cross training provider near you. Candidates enrolled in standard first aid and childcare first aid programs will learn the skills to recognize and manage persons that may have succumb to poisons.