LEE COUNTY – Many homes built prior to 1978 have lead paint, but the majority of homes built before 1960 have an even greater chance of having lead paint on or in them. A U.S. Census established that 51% of the homes in Iowa were built before 1960; ranking Iowa 6th in the nation. Forty-one percent (41%) of the homes in Lee County were built before 1950. Lead can be present on any painted surface but is most often found on windows, trim, door railings, columns, porches and outside walls. Surfaces that have been repainted often have lead paint underneath.
Most children are poisoned by invisible lead dust that is released when the paint is peeling, damaged or disturbed. The dust settles on floors and other surfaces. From there, it can easily get on children’s hands and toys and into their mouths. Children can also be poisoned by playing in bare soil which can contain lead from paint that has peeled from the outside walls, past use of leaded gasoline and other outside sources. Scraping, sanding or otherwise disturbing the surfaces can release large amounts of toxic lead dust. It is VERY important to keep the dust build up to a minimum by wetting the surface before sanding or scraping, and cleaning up daily after working in an area.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) children with blood lead levels (BLL) greater than 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (µg/dL) are considered lead poisoned. In 2016, about 12% of Iowa’s children less than six years of age tested for lead were poisoned. In Lee county 13% of the children tested were determined to be lead poisoned in 2016.
You cannot tell if a child is lead poisoned just by looking. The only way to find out is with a blood test. The test is simple, often just a finger stick, quick and available in a doctor’s office or clinics associated with Lee County Health Department. Iowa has a law that all children must be tested before entering kindergarten but annual testing beginning at one year of age is strongly encouraged rather than waiting until 5 years of age. If a child would be poisoned the harmful effects could be greatly reduced early on with the proper diet and reducing the hazard.
To make your home a healthy home-do the following:
•Keep the paint in good shape (check often, watch for water damage that can make paint peel)
•Work safely with lead paint (wet the surface before scraping, avoid creating dust or paint chips, seal off the work area, cover furniture or remove from the area, wash floors and walls with soap and water)
•Keep home free of dust (clean window sills and floor often, have children wash hands before eating and after playing outside)
•Watch where your children play (don’t let them play in bare soil, look for areas with grass or safe coverings)
•Test your child (0-6 years old).
Call your doctor or Lee County Health Department at 319-372-5225 for more information.