Get the Lead Out

It’s common knowledge that lead is an extremely hazardous chemical element. The average person should have no trace of lead in their bloodstream; there are zero benefits to having any amount of lead in the human body. Exposure to lead can have many harmful effects on pregnant women and children—and it’s especially bad for children up to age three, as they often put their hands (and other objects, which may be coated with lead dust) into their mouths.

Lead poisoning can cause lower IQs, delinquent behavior, lifelong learning problems, slowed growth, or even seizures or death—and children who appear to be healthy may still have dangerous levels of lead in their bodies. Peoria County has one of the highest lead poisoning rates in Illinois, with one in 20 children tested having a high level of lead, several times the national average.

Yet even this figure may underestimate the scope of the problem. A new report, published in Pediatrics magazine in April, examined 12 years of data from 39 states and found that only half of the 1.2 million cases of elevated blood lead levels thought to have occurred from 1999 to 2010 were actually reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To help mitigate this problem, Peoria County offers a Lead Hazard Removal Program, providing special funding for the removal of lead paint—the most common source of lead poisoning—in homes and rentals. Repairs may include siding, doors, windows, soffits and/or paint, and target homes include those built prior to 1978 in the 61603, 61604, 61605 or 61606 ZIP codes. Call (309) 679-6120 or visit peoriacounty.org/pcchd/lead for more information about this program.

Children should be tested for lead poisoning at nine to 12 months of age and again at 18 to 24 months of age. Contact your doctor or the Peoria City/County Health Department at (309) 679-6068 to schedule a lead screening. iBi

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