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Cleaning Up Sources of Lead for Children
How Do Children Get Lead Poisoning?
Most children who have lead poisoning came into contact with lead because they live in a home with deteriorated lead-based paint. Some children may come into contact with lead by playing in soil that has lead from flaking paint chips or other sources. Less often, a child has lead poisoning from having lived in a different state or country where lead exposures are more common.
Blood Lead Testing
Health experts recommend testing a young child’s blood for lead at least once during a routine clinic visit, especially if the child is at risk for lead poisoning. If the level of lead in a child’s blood is higher than 15 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dL), public health workers will help the family look for lead in their home. Removing lead-based paint and/or dust that contains lead, permanently sealing in lead-based paint, replacing fixtures that were painted with lead-based paint, and in some cases, removing or covering lead-contaminated soil can prevent the child from more contact with lead. Usually some testing is also done after the lead source is addressed.
To remove lead hazards from the child’s environment, the homeowner may clean up lead themselves, hire a licensed contractor, or work with a local public health agency to do the work. Depending on the nature of the work, it may be regulated, which requires notifying the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) that lead removal work is about to be started. Effective April 22, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates any remodeling, repair, or painting (RRP) activity on pre-1978 housing. Sometimes the same work done on homes to improve poor housing or for energy efficiency can also remove sources of lead at the same time. In these cases, housing is improved at the same time children’s health is protected from lead poisoning. In these cases, when the work is done for reasons other than lead poisoning, MDH may not be notified. MDH staff are glad to answer homeowners’ questions about removing sources of lead: Lead Poisoning Prevention Contacts.
What Happens When Lead Poisoning is Reported?
When lead poisoning is reported, MDH works with state and local public health officials to reduce additional lead exposure by cleaning up the lead source in the child’s environment. A good outcome is achieved when sources of lead in a home are found and cleaned up. However, in some cases the child’s family may have moved away or were only in the area for a short time so it is difficult to follow-up with the family. In cases where a child may have been adopted from another country and arrived here with lead poisoning, the child is no longer in contact with lead and the poisoning was not from the home where they are currently living.
What the Map Shows
Between 2006 and 2008, 35 lead poisoning cases were reported in the Ramsey County portion of the Central Corridor. Lead clean up was done or the lead poisoning case was otherwise resolved between 2006-2009 at 31 out of 35 locations where blood poisoning was reported. (Clean up work can lag behind blood lead testing by several months.) As of the date of this report, for reasons described above, there is not information on four cases. In the Central Corridor, there was lead clean up work in 21 of 24 blocks that had a case of lead poisoning in a child. MDH will continue to work with state and local agencies to determine the outcome of these remaining unresolved lead poisoning cases. (Click on the map for a larger image.)
Printable information sheet, with map: Cleaning Up Sources of Lead for Children (PDF: 283KB/3 pages)
Click on the map below for a larger image