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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Lead detection is difficult

Friday, July 9, 2004

Linda Messmer photo

Clay County Health Nurse Jennifer Lucas R.N., reads over test results done in early May on paint chips, soil and dust residue from around the Brazil water tower.

Part two of three



Lead poisoning remains a health threat to many U.S. citizens today, especially children under age six. Brazil received a lead contamination scare in May when an unidentified woman notified the Indiana Department of Environmental Management that she thought her family was being exposed to lead contamination from paint chips that had peeled off of the water tower on north Vandalia Street.

Testing by the IDEM showed there were no lead levels high enough to be a danger to the nearby residents. However, there are many sources of lead contamination and untreated lead poisoning can result in devastating consequences.

Lead poisoning is difficult to detect until levels are at dangerous levels and it continues to be a national concern. Clay County Health Department officials, William Hale R.E.H.S. and Jennifer Lucas R.N. want the public to be aware of the extent of lead exposure in the civilian population. The survey showed that 4.4 percent, or 890,000 of children aged 1-5 years in the U.S. population, still have lead blood levels of health concern.

While this is a decline since the 1970s, the numbers show it's still a significant, on-going problem. Efforts to prevent and/or treat the condition need to be aggressively pursued.

Lead poisoning occurs when unsafe levels of lead are found in the blood. The Center for Disease Control asserts that lead has been shown to have harmful effects at levels as low as 10 mcg/dl (micrograms per deciliter of blood).

According to: http://www/aboutlead.com/lead_poisoning, lead occurs naturally in the environment. But the presence of the substance is mainly the result of industrialization. It has no physiologic value to the human body.

Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or inhaling lead. Even small amounts of chipped lead paint or lead laced dust can be dangerous in the body.

Though adults can become quite ill from the disease, young children, especially six and under, are at greater risk. Their bodies absorb lead more easily than adults' bodies do and they will put anything into their mouths.

There are seldom symptoms of lead poisoning, or they may be mistaken for symptoms of flu or other illnesses. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, if present, early symptoms may include:

- stomach ache

- irritability

- fatigue

- frequent vomiting

- constipation

- headache

- sleep disorders

- poor appetite

At the lower levels, the effects of lead poisoning may not be obvious. But studies show low levels of lead may damage the nervous system, including the brain; interfere with growth; harm hearing; lower IQ scores and make learning difficult.

Low-level lead poisoning may also cause behavior problems. A child with lead poisoning may be easily excited, unable to concentrate or become easily upset.

As more lead accumulates, clumsiness, weakness and loss of recently acquired skills can occur. At high levels lead may cause coma, convulsions or even death.

Monday: Sources, prevention, treatment and screening for lead poisoning.

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