In a tremendous turnaround in children’s health, far fewer children in the U.S. have dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.
A new government report compared the lead levels today to those reported in children 20 years ago.
In 1988, 9 percent of children had elevated lead levels in their blood compared to 1.4 percent of young children found with elevated levels in 2004.
According to government standards, elevated levels of lead are at least 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood.
Lead is particularly damaging to children as it interferes with the developing nervous system and can cause permanent brain disorders such as learning, memory, and behavior. A toxic dose of the metal can lead to seizures and death.
In the U.S., children in low income communities and those in African-American or Mexican-American households have suffered from the highest exposure if they live in older housing or in an industrial area with lead in the air from sources such as smelting.
The study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at nearly 5,000 children between the ages of one and five.
The 84 percent drop in lead levels in the blood is reminiscent to levels not seen since the 1970s when lead was removed from gasoline and most paints.
Lead is still found in old house paint, soil, water, old plumbing pipes, as well as toys, many of which have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The study is published in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics.
There is no known “safe” level of lead in the human body, according to the CDC.
- The CDC recommends pregnant women and children avoid living in homes that are built before 1978, especially if it is undergoing renovation. That is when lead in paint might be unsettled and can be found in dust.
- Washing hands is suggested for children and washing toys frequently.
- Frequent washing of window sills and floors to remove dust containing lead.
- Avoid drinking from the hot tap for water, as hot water generally contains higher levels of lead than cold water
- The CDC has a goal of eliminating elevated blood lead levels in children by 2010. #