LEAD POISONING 101. Berrien County Health Department Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention

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1 LEAD POISONING 101 Berrien County Health Department Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention

2 The connection between health and the dwelling of the population is one of the most important that exists. ~ Florence Nightingale

3 Why Should We Care About Healthy Homes? We spend about 80-90% of our time indoors! Housing conditions can significantly affect public health Safety hazards Dangerous chemicals Polluted air quality Toxicants and allergens

4 Let s Think It Through What are housing hazards we see in our community? Lead Carbon Monoxide Pests/rodents/roaches/bedbugs Structural problems Mold/mildew Environmental (smoking) Ventilation Unsanitary housing

5 Let s Think It Through What are health issues we see in our community? Lead poisoning Accidents/injuries Cancer Asthma Allergies Obesity Depression Behavioral disorders Learning disabilities

6 Let s Think It Through What are the solutions? Maintain a clean home Fresh air ventilation Lead/mold abatement/removal Safety standards enforced Education

7 Healthy Homes = Healthy People Dry Well- Maintained Clean Contaminant Free Healthy Homes Safe Pest Free Well- Ventilated

8 What is Lead? A soft blue-gray metal Found in the natural environment Was added to gasoline and paint in the past Still found in some consumer products

9 Other Possible Sources of Lead Glazed pottery, dishes, and some jewelry Imported and ethnic products, candies, spices, or foreign home remedies Materials from hobbies such as stained glass, pottery making, fishing (sinkers), or gun ranges Can be found in water from old plumbing Dirt or soil

10 How are People Exposed to Lead? Swallowing lead dust Breathing contaminated air Lead contacting skin Workers can expose their families if they bring lead home on their clothes or skin Workers in lead smelting, mining, construction/remodeling, automobile repair, gun ranges, or plumbing are at most risk

11 Where Do We Come In Contact With Lead? Deterioration of lead-based paint (pre-1978) from homes and buildings Peeling paint chips, paint dust, or dirt is swallowed, inhaled or touched doors walls windows bare soil Lead in dust porch tracked in

12 Who is Most At Risk and Why? Who s At Risk: Children are most at risk for coming into contact with lead Pregnant women and developing fetus Refugees and/or immigrants Why? Children and pregnant women absorb more lead than others because of growing bodies and developmental changes Children are likely to crawl on floor with dirt/dust and then put their hands in their mouths Refugees and immigrants may be coming from countries without lead protection laws and may bring products with them that contain lead

13 Lead Poisoning: The Health Effects Reduced IQ Hearing, growth, and behavior problems Delay in language development Diminished capacity to learn Difficulty with reading and writing Impaired nerve function Permanent (non-reversible) damage to brain, blood system, and kidneys Possible death

14 How Do We Diagnose Lead Poisoning? Blood testing (venous or capillary) An Elevated Blood Lead Level (EBLL) is considered anything greater than or equal to 5μg/dL 1 microgram of lead = 1/17 th of a grain of sugar!

15 What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Lead Poisoning? Symptoms are vague and often mimic other illnesses, such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) Children can present with language delay, learning disabilities, behavior problems, anemia, reduced attention spans Pregnant women may experience miscarriage, premature labor, slow fetal growth, or elevated blood pressure The best way to prevent lead poisoning is to be aware of the risks and perform routine screenings!

16 Why Should I Care? 5,798 Michigan children in 2012 had EBLL over 5μg/dL There are several societal costs that lead poisoning has on all of us: Reduced productivity in the poisoned children as adults Increased costs for special education programs Cost of delinquency and crime resulting from cognitive and behavioral effects of lead poisoning Increased costs to the welfare, educational, health care, and criminal justice systems

17 How Can We Treat Lead Poisoning? There is no specific medical cure for childhood lead poisoning, but can stop lead poisoning before it gets worse The best treatment is to identify the source of lead and removal of the risk Public health nursing and environmental health services Awareness Education Prevention Early and routine screening Removal of lead poison source

18 Why Do We Still Have this Problem? Health care providers (doctors/nurses) are not fully aware of the significance of this issue Health care providers do not regularly screen children for lead, and can miss the signs and symptoms Medicaid-covered children under age 5 are mandated to be tested, but do not always receive the test (in MI) All parents (covered by Medicaid or private insurance) must ask doctor to do the test! Other issues parents may face: fear, language ability, reading ability, apathy

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21 Childhood Lead Poisoning Facts: Region 8 Communities Calendar Year 2012, MDCH Data Warehouse Community % Pre-1978 Housing % of children under six tested % with BLL 5ug/dL Benton Harbor 84.0% 21.3% 12.4% Battle Creek 79.6% 18.8% 4.5% Kalamazoo 78.8% 31.1% 8.6%

22 What Can I Do To Help? YOU are the key to lead poisoning prevention! Help spread awareness and education about lead poisoning to parents and families with young children Provide resources to families and parents: Encourage parents to know their child s blood lead level and what year their home was built Suggest a Certified Contractor for renovations in older homes If family members work around lead, suggest they remove shoes and work clothes before entering the home Work with families to assess their environments and where children spend time If the parents says the child eats dirt or clay, this can be associated with anemia and lead

23 What Can I Do To Help? Actively listen and ask open-ended questions to determine the risks and assess home environment Put open and on-going communication over paperwork! Encourage parents to have their child tested for lead especially if they have any of the risk factors! Refer families to the Health Department for additional assistance

24 Conclusions Lead in and around our homes can pose a serious health risk for families and young children There are no safe levels of lead in our bodies There are lots of less obvious sources of lead in our homes and communities Anyone living in or visiting an older home should have their child tested for lead We need your help to reach families with young children with this message please help spread the word!

25 Resources Berrien County Health Department: Michigan Department of Community Health: EPA Lead Free Kids: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: Department of Housing & Urban Development: Healthy Homes Resources: Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency Utility Companies Non-profit Organizations

26 QUESTIONS? Berrien County Health Department (269)

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