Risk factors associated with Lead

Risk factors associated with Lead

Like microbeads and other chemicals, lead has always been the topic of major health issue. To cite an example, the majority of lead poisoning cases are in young children who have ingested lead through a paint source in homes built before 1978 in St. Clair County. Sources of lead in houses include soil from surrounding homes with flaking exterior lead based paint, food stored in imported ceramic dishes or pottery, imported cosmetics, folk medicine and sometimes workplace exposure in lead-related industries. Recent water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has all eyes on the dangers of lead poisoning. But until President Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint last month, many of us had stopped thinking of lead exposure as a major health concern.

Dr. Maida Galvez, an associate professor of preventive medicine and pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, said though lead has been phased out of plumbing materials, gasoline and household paint way back in the 1970s and 1980s, it is something to be wary of. The report states that only 24.7% of St. Clair County children younger than age 6 were tested for lead in 2014. Of those tested, .8%, or 23 children, had a confirmed blood lead level (BLL) greater than 5 micrograms per deciliter, or ug/dL – Michigan’s rate in 2014 was 1.9%. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), the reference level is 5 ug/dL for children with elevated blood lead levels. Children younger than 6 years old, as well as those at risk from household or occupational exposure have been advised to receive blood lead testing.

Officials of the St. Clair County Health Department said that all the blood lead levels are reported to Michigan’s Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Surveillance System. We have an XRF lead-based paint analyzer for testing in homes and a licensed lead inspector to conduct home visits. Families with blood levels of 20 or above are referred to the State Lead Program for elevated blood level, or EBL, evaluation and possible assistance with abatement of the home.

The St. Clair County Health Department provides community outreach and education at various venues. To inquire about speaking engagements, call (810) 987-5300. Officials said that working together can reduce the risk of lead exposure. Educating ourselves about our risks and taking the right steps to respond is critical. One important area of improvement is to test more of our children younger than 6 years old for lead.


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