By Rossany Auceda, Iowa Department of Public Health
Did you know that 1 in 3 children who enter kindergarten each year never had a blood lead test? That means that 10 out of every 30 students in a classroom could have learning difficulties because their exposure to lead was not identified early on.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that no level of lead is safe in a child and that it is best to prevent lead poisoning before it happens.
If your child lives in or visits a home or apartment built before 1978, the paint may be lead-based. The danger exists if the paint is chipping, peeling, or in need of repair. Lead poisoning happens when children put their hands and other objects in their mouths that are contaminated with lead, like paint chips, dirt, and toys.
The only way to know whether your child has been in contact with lead is through a blood test. Contact your pediatrician or medical provider about having your child tested for lead. After testing, your pediatrician, medical provider or the Health Department will notify you of the results and next steps in keeping your child safe.
Here are some tips to help you prevent lead poisoning at your home:
- Look for paint chips around walls, windowsills, door jambs and other places inside the home. If you find paint chips, collect them, put in a plastic bag, and dispose in the trash. Did you find dust on the floor? Clean with a wet mop or vacuum.
- Wipe windows and other dusty surfaces with a damp disposable cloth.
- Wash toys, pacifiers, sheets, and other objects that your child uses frequently with soap and water.
- Before painting or remodeling, get information on how to do it safely from the Iowa Department of Public Health at https://idph.iowa.gov/Environmental-Health-Services/Childhood-Lead-Poisoning-Prevention/Property-Owners/Resources.
- Oh and do not forget to wash your child’s hands after playing, before eating and napping!
For more information on keeping your child safe from lead, contact the Iowa Department of Public Health at 800-972-2026 or visit us online at https://idph.iowa.gov/Environmental-Health-Services/Childhood-Lead-Poisoning-Prevention