National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

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Childhood lead poisoning is considered to be the most preventable environmental disease among young children; yet, approximately half a million children in the United States have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the level at which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says public health actions should start. In 2016, there were 189 children in Arkansas reported to have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter.

Lead is toxic to the human body. In particular, children six years old and younger are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults because their brains and spinal cords are still developing, and effects on early childhood development can be severe. Even in small amounts, lead can affect a child’s mental and physical growth, causing learning disabilities, disorders in coordination, attention deficit disorder, and stunted growth. Some of these effects may persist beyond childhood. For pregnant women, harmful effects can include premature births, smaller babies, and miscarriage. There is no safe level of lead exposure.

“Unfortunately, the effects of lead exposure in a young child can be devastating and lifelong,” says Dr. Dirk Haselow, State Epidemiologist at the Arkansas Department of Health. “Prevention of lead exposure is key.”     MORE

 

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