A project of the Child Trends News Service supported by the National Science Foundation

Protecting Kids from Lead Exposure

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — According to scientists, as many as 23 million families in the United States may be living in homes with hazardous lead paint. Lead exposure and poisoning can have dangerous long-term effects on children, including damage to the brain, slow development, and behavioral problems. A Pew Charitable Trusts and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study released this month finds that creating an environment safe from lead not only provides health benefits, but may have serious economic benefits as well.

You can find it in the air, in the soil, and even in your drinking water. Lead is a toxic element that is harmful to children. Great strides have been made over the past several decades with government regulations to reduce lead exposure, but it still can be found in older homes. Studies have found that lead-poisoned children are more likely to drop out of school, get into trouble with the law, and earn less throughout their lifetime. A new study reports that preventing lead exposure can bring in billions of dollars of future benefits in earnings, and healthcare and social service savings.

Parents can take steps now to protect kids from lead exposure. Talk to local or state officials to test for lead in homes built before 1978 and ask your child’s school if they have had dust from chipping paint or lead in plumbing.

Children in low-income communities are at greater risk of being exposed to lead because some low-income families tend to rent, and as a result live in inadequate housing with faulty plumbing. If you do suspect that your child has been exposed to lead, talk to a pediatrician about getting your child’s blood lead levels tested.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising; Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

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