Springfield-Greene County Health is recognizing National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week by raising awareness of the impacts of lead exposure and how to reduce it. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Missouri is the leading producer of lead in the United States.
Between January 2019 and September 2022, 7,634 children in Greene County had lead detected in their blood. Nearly 400 of these children tested above the level of concern, requiring follow up.
While not all children require intervention, there is no safe level of lead exposure. Any amount breathed in or swallowed is toxic, especially in young children. In children, lead exposure can lead to:
- Learning and behavioral challenges.
- Slower growth and development.
- Hearing and speech problems.
- Damage to the brain and central nervous system.
In adults, long-term and high-level exposures to lead can cause brain and kidney damage. Those who are pregnant should also avoid lead exposures as it can lead to pre-term delivery and low infant birth rates.
Exposure often occurs through food, lead-based paint, soil and some toys. Missouri DHSS reports that 21% of homes in the state were built before 1950 and 65% were built before 1978. These homes may contain some lead-based paint.
Thankfully, lead poisoning is preventable. Preventing exposures means avoiding contact with surfaces and objects that may contain lead, such as:
- Avoiding homes undergoing renovation if the house was built before 1978.
- Washing children’s toys regularly.
- Not allowing children to play in bare soil.
- Removing children from peeling paint or chewable surfaces with lead-based paint.
If a known lead exposure occurs, talk to your child’s pediatrician about testing. Children should be screened for lead poisoning by their pediatrician at their annual wellness visits. Children with elevated lead levels in their blood test will be offered lead case management services at no cost by the Health Department’s NEST Partnership or their Medicaid managed care provider. More information on lead poisoning prevention can be found on the Health Department’s website.
Media may contact the Health Department PIO Team by call or text at 417-380-2556 or email at [email protected].
Springfield-Greene County Health Department
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