Lead Poisoning Prevention

Lead poisoning is one of the most common and preventable environmental health problems today. An estimated one million children have elevated blood lead levels of at least 5 micrograms per deciliter (5 µg/dl) in the U.S. According to 2003 Missouri blood lead testing data, three thousand children under the age of six, were identified with elevated blood lead levels in the state.

Lead mining and smelting is an important part of Missouri history. Lead in Missouri was first discovered along the Meramac River by French explorers in the 1700s, while searching for gold and silver. Missouri became the dominant lead-producing state in the nation in 1907. It has remained number one ever since.

Lead is a shiny silver colored metal found naturally in the earth’s crust. Lead has been used in our society in a variety of ways including in paints, gasoline, and some vinyl products, such as mini-blinds. Processed or recycled lead can become a health hazard. Fine particles of processed or recycled lead and/or lead dust become a health hazard when they are taken into the body through inhalation (breathing) and/or ingestion (swallowing).

Fact: Missouri is the #1 lead-producing state in the United States.
Fact: 24 percent of Missouri housing was built before 1950, when high lead-content paint was widely used.
Fact: Approximately 80 percent of Missouri housing was built before 1978 and may contain some lead-based paint.
Fact: An estimated four percent of Missouri children tested less than six years of age are known to have elevated blood lead levels ( ≥ 5 μg/dl).
Fact: It is well known that lead poisoning adversely effects young children.

In High-Risk areas the following activities shall occur:

  • Any child under the age of six years living in or visiting for 10 hours per week or more, the high-risk area, will be tested annually for lead.
  • Day care facilities are required to record a “proof of lead testing” signed by the Health Care Provider performing the test within thirty (30) days of the child’s enrollment. If the parent/guardian does not provide it or a written statement stating why they do not want the child tested, the Day care facility is to offer the parent assistance in scheduling a test.
  • Any child found to be at High-Risk, is living in a residence that was built before 1978, and is undergoing renovation, may be tested every six months and once following completion of the work. (Also applies to children found to be at high-risk in non high-risk areas.)

In Non-High Risk areas the following activities shall occur:

  • Any child under the age of six years visiting for 10 hours per week or more, a high-risk area, will be tested annually for lead.
  • All Medicaid eligible children will be blood tested for lead at age 12 and 24 months of age. It is recommended that all children (regardless of Medicaid eligibility) be tested for lead at 12 and 24 months of age. (This statement does not appear in the law, but applies as HCFA policy and DHSS recommendations.)
  • Beginning at age six months up to age six years every child will be screened annually by verbal risk assessment (DHSS/DSS questionnaire) to determine whether they are at high risk.
  • Every child, less than age six, found to be at high risk, will be tested for lead.

Prenatal Assessment Questionnaire
Healthcare professionals that serve pregnant women, including but not limited to health departments, hospitals, clinics, healthcare facilities, and health maintenance organizations, should perform a lead risk assessment of pregnant woman as part of the first prenatal visit. A questionnaire for assessing risk of lead poisoning in pregnant women has been developed by DHSS. The questionnaire is designed to be self administered, with the responses being reviewed by the health care provider to clarify any unknown or incomplete responses. Any positive response to the questionnaire should be considered an indication of lead poisoning risk to both the fetus and pregnant woman. The completed questionnaire should become part of the woman’s medical record. Healthcare professionals identifying a pregnant woman with a risk factor(s) should take the appropriate steps to refer the pregnant woman to a licensed physician or health care provider for a blood lead test.

To be tested, contact the Health Center for an appointment. Results and your peace of mind are just 3 minutes away.

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