Lead poisoning in children is one of the most common PREVENTABLE environmental related diseases. It is not just an inner city problem; 74% of all private housing built before 1980 contains lead paint. Appleton is not immune to the lead problem. Those at greatest risk are children younger than 7 years and pregnant women.
The most common source of lead is from leaded paint. Others include varnishes, drinking water, emissions, auto exhaust, solder, folk remedies, leaded mini-blinds, tinsel, and hobbies such as stained glass ceramics or furniture refinishing. There are always new sources of lead being found too: for example in some candle wicks and other imported products.
Exposure to children occurs mostly from ingestion of lead based paint chips, or from the dust or soil contaminated by lead paint. This contamination happens from deteriorating paint or home renovation. Lead does not break down or "go away" so as our homes become older, the integrity of the paint is lost and the risk of exposure increases.
Lead can affect every system in the body. It is extremely harmful to the developing brains of fetuses and young children; as their bodies grow, they absorb lead more efficiently. Children with elevated blood levels usually show no symptoms of poisoning at first. Low to moderate levels can cause decreased intelligence, growth, and behavior problems. Severe lead exposure can cause coma, convulsions and even death.
Ways parents can help protect against lead poisoning:
(1) Have your child tested for lead poisoning.
(2) Keep your child away from peeling paint.
(3) Wash children’s hands before they eat and wash objects that children regularly put into their mouths.
(4) Make sure the child eats at least three meals a day with foods high in iron and calcium.
(5) Assure safe elimination of the lead hazard.
(6) Use good housekeeping methods; keep home as clean as possible by keeping dust to a minimum. Use wet-mop methods.
Call the Appleton Health Department at 832-6429 for more information about lead poisoning and free lead testing on children under age 6 (residing in the Corporate City limits of Appleton).
Lead Prevention Web Sites:
- State of Wisconsin Lead Prevention Web Site
- Green and Healthy Homes Initiative
- Lead in Folk Remedies
- (Spanish Version)
- Infographic on Preventing Childhood Lead Poisoning