EATON — Lead poisoning due to exposure in old buildings is not a major thread to area citizens, according to Preble County Public Health.
Lead can have negative effects on nearly every system in the body in both adults and children, and is the greatest preventable environmental threat to children in Ohio, according to Public Health. Children under 36 months, in critical development stages, are at greatest risk for lead poisoning and damaging effects.
According to 2015 lead surveillance data, one Preble County child was identified with an elevated blood lead level of 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood. There is no “safe” level of lead in the bloodstream, but 10 micrograms is an action point wherein health authorities get involved.
“At that point, there’s an investigation on the home to find the source of lead,” said Nan Smith, director of nursing for Preble County Public Health. “We provide case management for those children, so we make sure the child is seeing a doctor and being tested, and we provide education to make sure the child is getting a nutritious diet because that keeps them from absorbing lead.”
The county has worked to resolve and prevent lead issues since the 1980s, and awareness has been brought back into focus after disastrous water system issues in Flint, Michigan.
“Most children are exposed through lead paint, so any home built before the early 1970s when the laws were changed to keep lead out of paint can have potential for that. That’s the typical way. Most of the exposure is not through water, unless you’re talking about a major issue with a whole water system, like in Flint.”
That doesn’t mean that that children in every home with lead paint are in danger, however.
“There’s a fairly high percentage of homes in the county that have lead paint in them, but if the paint is intact and in good condition, it’s not a problem. It’s only when that paint is cracking and peeling, or if there’s a lot of friction, like on window surfaces, where you can create dust from that friction. If the paint is intact, it’s not an issue. So, even if you have a hundred homes with lead paint and children in the homes, it could be that they’re all well maintained and none of those children are affected.”
Public Health’s efforts are geared toward prevention through showing people how to maintain the home in a healthy state.
However, health commissioner Erik Balster cautioned, “If you have lead in the home, and you have children there as well, and you’re considering remodeling, you really need to have experts come in and handle that work. And there are also homes that have a mixture of old paint and new paint, so if you don’t know, be safe and call an expert.
“Our efforts are geared toward prevention through showing people how to maintain the home in a good state and making sure kids are getting diets high in calcium and iron so those can help keep from absorbing the lead. if you have lead in the home and you have children in the home and are considering remodeling, you really need to have experts come in and handle that work.”
“People are more than welcome to call us at the health department if they have questions,” he said. “On our website, we have a fact sheet for questions involving lead, and that will lead to the state’s lead program page, which has a large wealth of information. They can also call our clinic here, and we can guide them through steps they can take to get children tested if they’re concerned, and then additionally provide them with other resources.”
Reach Duante Beddingfield at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @duanteb_RH.