Page 11 - Scene Magazine 42-02 February 2017
P. 11

For Our Health
BY MICHELLE THORNE, MSN, RN
There certainly has been a lot of at- tention about lead and how dangerous it can be, but do you really under- stand why? Lead, a heavy metal or chemical element,
is not naturally found in your body so any level of detection in your blood is usually not good. However, children, es- pecially those under the age of six, are at more risk for poor outcomes due to lead poisoning because their brains are not fully developed. When lead gets into the blood of an adult, nearly all of it will get eliminated by the body. When lead gets into the blood of a child, only a third will get eliminated with the rest going into the bones and brain. Once lead is in the bones and the brain, it will remain there and cause learning problems, behavior disorders, mental issues, and even death.
Lead can be found in many places. Fortunately, the United States has worked hard to eliminate lead from sources that were poisoning people. Gasoline with lead has been removed, lead pipes have been replaced, and paint no longer con- tains lead. However, many items still contain lead and exposures still occur. Houses with paint prior to the lead re- moval will be one of the biggest offend- ers of poisoning. Over 80% of the hous- ing stock in Calhoun County was built before 1978 which is the date we look for paint containing lead. Intact paint is not hazardous, but when paint begins chipping or peeling, lead dust particles will be released. Breathing these parti- cles is one way to get them into the body. Think of opening an old wooden painted window with a fresh breeze blowing in at you. How many particles could have been released as you opened that win- dow? Children can often be found eating paint chips because lead is sweet and it tastes good to young children. Old toys painted with leaded paint or jewelry made from lead are other causes of lead poisoning in children as well.
Consider the outside of your house, as well, for potential risks. Many older houses that are in need of painting may still contain chipped or peeling leaded
How Lead Poisoning Affects Me
paint. When the chips of paint drop to the ground, young feet or even your pet dog may pick up some of these paint chips bringing them into your home. Once on the floor, they can be picked up by children playing or crawling on the floor and quickly make their way into their mouths. Heavy traffic in these areas can pick up the dust particles and float them around to be inhaled as well.
While it sounds like an overwhelming
task to prevent lead poisoning, very sim- ple changes can be done to reduce this possibility. Mother’s old rule of leaving your shoes at the door is a great way to reduce tracking lead through the house. Using a wet mop with disposable wipes to mop up the floor after pet traffic or pri- or to allowing child play on floors will reduce the amount of lead dust. Seek to keep any older painted surfaces intact with paint. And most importantly, wash your hands before putting anything in your mouth!
If you live in a home that was built be- fore 1978, make sure that your child has recently been tested for lead. This can be done by your doctor or at the Calhoun County Public Health Department. Once a child is found to have an elevated blood lead level over five micrograms/deciliter, many steps can be taken to reduce the harmful effects, put into place protective efforts, and seek out resources to identify and eliminate the lead source.
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