Around 37 million homes in this country still contain lead-based paint — and an additional 6 million homes receive their drinking water from lead pipes. As a result of lead’s prevalence and worrisome effects when ingested, pediatricians are joining together in a new statement published in Pediatrics to push for more proactive lead testing for children, especially if little ones are between the ages of 1 and 2 and live in an area with homes that were built pre-1960. They are also requesting updated regulations and national lead limits including federal funding allotments to safely remove lead paint and dust, replacing lead pipes that are used for water, and setting new limits for lead inside the home and out. Although blood lead concentrations have decreased significantly since lead was removed from paint and gasoline, there is no “safe threshold” for lead exposure. Citing the worrying fact that doctors are often called in when lead exposure is already evident and has done damage in the child — leading to mental or physical issues including loss of IQ and behavioral issues, the pediatricians hope that by being proactive with regard to testing and regulating, they will prevent these issues from even occurring. We’re all for getting our kids outside to play in the dirt, but the situation is obviously tricky when said dirt may have been exposed to lead from nearby highways, residual paint, or contaminated water sources. Parents can be proactive as well by protecting their kids with various precautions including having their home tested for toxins, understanding areas of the home or neighborhood that might be vulnerable to lead, and being very aware about the state of our nation’s water systems.
Image via Shutterstock