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Many Kids With Too Much Lead Don't Get Retested

Children Need Follow-Up Tests If Their Lead Level Is Too High, Say Experts

Is Your Home at Risk? continued...

Low-income families live in many of the homes at high risk for lead problems. However, wealthier people may also encounter lead in renovating old homes.

Lamphear calls for required screening of high-risk, older housing units before occupancy and after renovation or abatement.

Less common sources of lead exposure include making stained-glass windows and recycling or making automobile batteries, says the CDC.

The CDC also says lead pipes, solder, brass fixtures, and valves can leach lead and that most lead in household water comes from plumbing in the house, not the local water supply.

Some home health remedies and cosmetics may contain lead. According to the CDC, these include: arzacon and greta, which are used for upset stomach or indigestion; pay-loo-ah, which is used for rash and fever; and the cosmetics kohl and akohl.

What to Do

Concerned about children's lead risk? The CDC offers this advice:

  • Ask a doctor to test your child's blood lead level.
  • Talk to your state or local health department about testing paint or dust from your pre-1978 home.
  • Reduce exposure to lead by cleaning floors with a damp mop, swabbing surfaces with a damp wipe, and frequently washing a child's hands, toys, and pacifiers.
  • Use only cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula. Hot tap water is more likely to contain higher levels of lead.
  • Avoid using home remedies and cosmetics containing lead.
  • If you remodel buildings built before 1978 or work with lead-based products, take steps to reduce your lead exposure. For instance, shower and change clothes when you're done with a task involving lead exposure.

Adequate calcium intake appears to be protective against lead toxicity. It decreases the absorption of lead for the gut. Calcium also prevents exposure to lead during bone metabolism. When lead is ingested it can accumulate in bone.

Vitamin C may also protect against lead toxicity. How this occurs is not fully understood, but it is believed to inhibit lead absorption as well as increase the excretion of lead in the urine.

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