Lead poisoning in American children has decreased so radically over the past generation that the CDC set a goal of eradicating it by 2010. Sadly, like polio, the final pockets of it have proven harder to combat.
Lead poisoning has become rare, but it’s by no means extinct yet. The main risk isn’t toys from China or contaminated soil. It’s our old nemesis, lead paint.
The main culprit for lead poisoning remains flaking or peeling lead paint. Even in cases where there are other likely environmental causes, like the neighborhood in Staten Island that was built over an old lead factory, lead paint is responsible for most of the kids who end up poisoned.
There are “lead belts” in major cities like New York. These are generally poor urban neighborhoods with deteriorating housing and poor enforcement of existing lead laws. It’s these neighborhoods that are thwarting the CDC’s efforts to finally do away with childhood poisoning.
What can parents do? The obvious things.
- Keep your child away from flaking or peeling paint.
- If you own your home, be sure that it is deleaded. There are often state and federal programs to help cover the costs of this.
- If you rent, know the local lead laws. Most places require landlords to delead a property where children are living.
Photo: Editor B
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