The Childhood Lead Poisoning Program supported by the Center for Disease Control and the National Center of Environmental Health inspects 20,000 homes annually for lead poisoning. They specifically check paint, ceramics, dishes, walls, window sills, leaded gas, and lead solders. Lead exposure attributable to automobile air emissions was a major exposure source prior to 1976. Between 1976 and 1990, lead used in gasoline declined by 99.8% in the United States, but not in some other countries where lead is permitted in gasoline. (N.A.P.E., 1993)
Blood tests on individuals may be done in order to detect lead poisoning. If a blood level of an individual ranges from 10-19 micrograms of lead per 1 deciliter of blood, follow-up and repeat screening will need to be done. A blood level at approximately 20 micrograms of lead per 1 deciliter of blood indicates lead poisoning and requires treatment. A blood level at approximately 70 micrograms of lead per 1 deciliter of blood indicates a serious case of lead poisoning and requires chelation. (Childhood Lead Poisoning Program, 1997)
The symptoms of lead poisoning may appear in various forms. Acute lead encephalopathy may result in coma, seizures, apathy, incoordination, alternate states of consciousness, or loss of skills. Severe and permanent brain damage may result in 70-80% of children infected. Symptomatic lead poisoning may result in decreasing in play activities, lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, intermittent abdominal pain, or constipation. These two forms of lead poisoning require a blood test to determine the exact concentration of lead in the blood. (Childhood Lead Poisoning Program, 1997)
Some agents to treat lead poisoning are Bal in Oil, Curpimine, Chemet, and CaNa EDTA. The CaNa EDTA Chelation Test requires the patient to empty his / her bladder and be infused with this chemical at 500 mg/m in 5% dextrose over 1 hour. If caught early enough, these cases of poisoning can be treated sufficiently. (Childhood Lead Poisoning Program, 1997)
What can you do to prevent or decrease lead poisoning in your home? First of all, one common mistake in ridding of lead paint in the home is to chip away at it and dispose of all pieces. This is not as easy as it seems. As you begin to chip at the paint, small lead dust particles enter the air and can make their way to your airways and lungs. This can cause a worse scenario than before. In order to properly get rid of lead paint, trained professionals need to do the job with ventilated masks and technical equipment. Other approaches you can take in your home include using a wet mop approximately twice a week. This prevents lead dust from accumulating. Also, you should use cleaners high in phosphates to prevent lead poisoning. Remember that most homes built prior to 1970 did use lead paints on walls and especially window sills. If you feel your house could have lead build-up, have it examined by a professional or call the LEAD HOTLINE at 1-800-424-LEAD.