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Thousands of Ohio’s children are not being tested for lead poisoning

Posted October 20, 2020
1:58 pm

October 25 - 31 is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) - a federal initiative sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). NLPPW is dedicated to actions that address health effects of lead exposure and increase awareness of childhood lead poisoning prevention. Lead poisoning is preventable despite the presence of lead in homes and the environment.

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland is reminding Ohio residents to test young children for lead levels in their blood and be aware of possible exposure to lead poisoning in the home.

From 2016-2019, an average of 12,357 children in Ohio were tested for lead each month.  In 2020, an average of 9,833 children in Ohio have been tested for lead each month. That decrease of 2,524 tests each month has added up to 22,716 fewer children being tested for lead so far in Ohio in 2020.

According to the CDC, about 3.6 million American households have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards. Additionally, about 500,000 American children between the ages of 1 and 5 years have blood lead levels greater than or equal to the level of blood reference value, the level at which CDC recommends public health actions.

Lead can be found inside and outside the home, including in the water that travels through lead pipes or in the soil around the house. However, the most common source of exposure is from lead-based paint, which was used in many homes built before 1978. Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by breathing in the lead dust (especially during activities such as renovations, repairs or painting) or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, and other places, or eating paint chips or soil that contain lead.

Children can also become exposed to lead dust from adults’ jobs or hobbies, and from some metal toys or toys painted with lead-based paint. Children are not exposed equally to lead, nor suffer its consequences in the same way. These disparities unduly burden minority families and low-income families and their communities.

The problem is largely preventable with increased testing and education. Get your home and children are tested for lead - it is the only way to prevent lead poisoning.

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