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Connecticut Families Extra: Dangerous lead exposure at home

Connecticut Families

(WTNH) — An estimated 500,000 kids in the United States have elevated levels of lead in their blood, primarily from the pipes and paint in their homes.

Lead can impact how a child behaves and performs in school. For years, health experts and the center for disease control have warned about the risks associated with lead poisoning in kids, which can include damage to the brain and nervous system. Now, new research suggests that even a small amount of lead in the blood can contribute to behavior problems in kids.

In older homes, the danger could be in the water or on the ceiling and walls. Despite awareness efforts and community outreach, in this case, by a non-profit group in Trenton, New Jersey, nationwide, lead remains a concern.

“That’s the really tragic thing about lead is that once a child is lead poisoned, then they have some permanent deficits.”

Janet Currie studied the blood lead levels of 120,000 children in Rhode Island, a state with high rates of lead testing for young children. Using school records, the researchers wanted to see if a child’s blood lead level in the preschool years predicted whether they later had problems in school. They found a relationship between even low levels of lead and future academic progress.

“They’re more likely to have disciplinary problems in school. It was very striking that for every microgram of lead additional, you would see a step up in the level of problems.”

Currie says if your home was built before 1978, it likely has lead-based paint. Any peeling paint should be removed by a contractor and covered with fresh paint. Commercially-available filters can remove lead particles from tap water.

If you live in an older home, don’t plant your vegetables against the house. There might be lead in the soil. Instead, build a raised bed, with fresh soil. With ways to keep kids lead-free, Currie says the research findings affirm that any level of lead in a child’s blood is reason for concern.

She also says there needs to be a more effective mechanism in place for blood lead screening. Currie says most states don’t enforce mandatory screening for all kids.

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