Lead - A Health Risk for Many Young Children

Children are more at risk than adults to the effects of lead because their brains are still growing. Lead exposure can cause problems with the brain. This may lead to learning difficulties and behavior problems. There is no safe level of lead exposure for children. Sources of lead can include old paint, contaminated dust and soil, and water in lead pipes. The most important step is to prevent lead exposure before it occurs.
Children are especially at risk of lead exposure if they:
• live in the inner city or in poverty
• live in a home built before 1978
• have poor nutrition

Early care and education programs can help prevent and reduce lead exposure in the following ways:

• Promote handwashing before meals and after outdoor gross motor play
• Clean/wash toys and furniture to reduce a child's exposure to lead in dust
• Vacuum weekly and as needed with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum
• Check toys and playground equipment for chipped or peeling paint
• Provide healthy menus and regular meal and snack times
• Make sure to screen children at risk of lead exposure. Link them to their medical home. A blood lead screening test is the only way to determine if a child has been exposed to lead. All children on Medicaid are required to have a blood lead test at one and two years of age. Most children who are eligible for testing are not tested.

• Track each child’s developmental milestones
• Arrange for skilled assessment of children with high lead levels for learning disabilities. Encourage and support parents to contact CONNECT at 800-692-7288.
• Educate families about the dangers of lead exposure
• Provide quality educational programs that support healthy development and cognitive growth. This may reduce some of the effects of lead exposure

Resources:
•Contact ECELS for suggestions about how to have screenings or lead tests done in a child care facility.
• PA Lead Information Line 800-440-LEAD (5323) Call for specific information about lead.
• National Lead Information Center (NLIC) provides the public and professionals with information about lead, lead hazards and their prevention. For questions about lead in drinking or ground water, contact the Safe Drinking Water Hotline: 800-426-4791 or click "Ask a Question" https://safewater.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/requests/new

Online Resources:
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/
• Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/lead
• Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center: Lead Screening: Well-Child Health Care Fact Sheet  https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/physical-health/publication/lead-screening-well-child-health-care-fact-sheet

Reviewed and updated 4/2019