Are you concerned your child may have been exposed to lead? Lead exposure is dangerous during early childhood development, but fortunately it’s easy to detect. A simple blood test can reveal elevated lead levels, and your child can be tested for free in Chatham County through October 30th.
Next week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, which is a nationwide effort to raise awareness of this preventable but dangerous environmental threat. Last year in Chatham County, more than 3,600 children under age six were tested for lead in the blood, and 86 of them had blood lead levels that were too high.
Even low levels of lead in blood can affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. The effects of lead exposure cannot be reversed if damage has occurred, so it’s very important to detect elevated blood lead levels early so you can stop further exposure.
“The most common source of lead exposure is from lead-based paint, which you often find in homes built before 1978,” said Dr. Chris Rustin, Administrator of the Chatham County Health Department. “Savannah is well known for its historic architecture, but our older housing supply means many children could be exposed to lead in paint or the soil.”
When lead paint gets old, it can start peeling and become a hazard. Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by breathing in the lead or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, and other places, or eating paint chips or soil that contain lead. A child can be exposed to lead through other means including toys, jewelry, fishing lures, glazed pottery, and other products.
If you would like to have your child tested, contact the Chatham County Health Department at 912-356-2441 to make an appointment for a free screening between now and October 30.
More information about lead poisoning is available at cdc.gov/nceh/lead/.