During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that children continue to be tested for lead poisoning, receive their “well baby/child” checkups and be vaccinated.
There are more than 80 children with elevated lead blood levels in Rock Island County and 97 in Scott County, a news release says. Lead poisoning continues to be a health hazard that disproportionality affects low-income families and persons of color.
Lead poisoning is a cumulative toxin that adversely affects multiple body systems and is especially harmful to young children. The longer the lead exposure, the greater the range and severity of symptoms and after effects. Lead poisoning is associated with long-term learning disabilities and behavioral problems. This damage cannot be reversed.
Causes of lead poisoning. Although lead in paint was banned in 1978, it still can be found in older homes, especially those in poor condition. Paint chips on door frames, window sills and other surfaces may be ingested by toddlers and small children. Because these chips taste sweet, children are drawn to them.
Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. The first step in prevention is testing surfaces in the home. Testing kits are available through the Live Lead Free organization and for purchase at local hardware stores. Affected windows can be replaced and old painted surfaces can be repainted.
· Live Lead Free has funds and other resources available to help with testing and remediation. https://www.liveleadfreeqc.org/
· The cities of Rock Island, Moline, East Moline and Silvis have a joint federal grant that can pay to make homes lead safe for income-eligible families. https://moline.il.us/513/Application-Eligibility or call 309-524-2044
· The health departments offer free lead testing for children up to age 6. The health departments also assist with treatment, provide home inspections/testing and follow up.
Rock Island County Health Department Lead Poisoning Prevention program: https://richd.org/lead_poisoning_prevention.php, 309-558-2935
Scott County Health Department: https://www.scottcountyiowa.gov/health/childhood-lead-poisoning-prevention or call 563-326-8618