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LEAD 101

Uses of Lead

Lead has been in use for centures.  The most common uses are:

  • Lead based paint (pre 1978)
  • Lead-acid batteries
  • Anti-knock gasoline additives (pre 1976)
  • Plumbing (solder)
  • Bullets
  • Fishing weights
  • Glazes in pottery or dishes (Mexico/China)
Lead in California

  • 1 of every 5 at risk children is tested for lead
  • Of the estimated 127,000 children with elevated blood lead levels, only 18,000, or 14%, were identified by health officials

Attributed Source of Lead Exposure (California Dept. of Health Services)

New Cases in California 1999/Children Ages 1-20

 Source

 Number of Cases

% 

Paint

251

 27.6

Soil

108

11.9

Dust

87

9.6

Water

0

0

Take-Home

108

11.9

Pottery

20

2.2

Cosmetic

1

0.1

Home Remedy

70

7.7

Hobby

31

3.4

Other

785

8.3

No Attributed Source

482

53.1

 Health Effects of Lead

  • Damage to brain and nervous system
  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Anemia
  • Slow growth
  • Damages to kidney and immune system
  • Reproductive health problems (adulthood)
  • Vision and hearing loss
  • At high levels, can cause coma and convulsions

*Effects are the same whether lead dust is inhaled or ingested

What is Childhood Lead Poisoning?

  • Lead enters the blood through the ingestion or inhalation of lead particles
  • Lead accumulates in the blood and bones over short or long periods of time

Children At Risk

Children under six years have the greatest risk for lead poisoning; their bodies absorb and retain more lead than adults.

  • Hand to mouth behavior
  • Higher food consumption per body size/weight
  • Vulnerable developmental stage; brain/immune system

Signs and Symptoms

Children with Lead Poisoning may not look or act sick.  Many of these symptoms can be mistaken for other illness.

  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Short attention span
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Poor appetite
  • Constipation
  • Behavioral changes (hyperactivity)

More severe signs include:

  • Changes in consciousness
  • Sight and hearing loss
  • Convulsions

Lead Targeted Screening Policy State of California

  • All low income children eligible for Medi-Cal, CHDP, Healthy Families, or WIC require a blood lead test at ages 12 and 24 months.
  • If child is 15 months old and has not been tested, child needs blood lead test.

CHDP Blood Lead Testing Requirements

  • Any time a "high risk" status is found regardless of age
  • On all children at age 12 months and 24 months of age
  • On all children between the ages of 25 and 72 months (6 years of age), who have never been tested previously.

Social Costs and Impacts of Learning Disabilities

  • Nearly 40% of adults with learning disabilities have significant difficulties with employment and social adjustment
  • 62% of students with learning disabilities were unemployed one year after high school
  • 50% of females with learning disabilities will become mothers within 3-5 years after high school
  • 50% of juvenile delinquents tested were found to have undetected learning disabilities
  • 42% of adults in correctional institutions were eligible for special education

Associated Effects on Individuals, Families and Communities

  • Financial stress
  • Emotional stress
  • Suicide
  • Substance abuse
  • Employment problems
  • Academic difficulties

THE BIG SOURCE

  • Lead-based paint hazards primarily occur in housing constructed prior to 1978
  • Over 80% of housing in U.S. is constructed before 1978
  • Approximately 90% of cases are associated with lead-based paint hazards

Legal Tools to Prevent Childhood Lead Poisoning

Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule (EPA/HUD)

  • This rule applies to pre-1978 constructed housing for families
  • Requires that EPA brochure "Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home" be given to:
    • All Prospective Renters
    • All Prospective Buyers

Summary

  • Pre-1978 housing poses the most common and threatening lead hazard to children
  • Children under six have the greatest risk for lead poisoning
  • Childhood lead poisoning can be prevented; have child tested at age 1 and 2
  • Good nutrition and good cleaning practices can reduce childhood lead exposure in the home





Healthy Homes Collaborative, P.O. Box 31796, Los Angeles, CA 90031  P: (323)221-8320  F: (323)226-9587  http://www.lahhc.org

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