Lead Poisoning Prevention

Childhood lead poisoning is one of the most common pediatric health problems in the United States today, yet in Missouri, only 10 percent of children under the age of six were tested for lead poisoning in 1999. Eleven percent of those children had blood lead levels greater than nine micrograms per deciliter, a level of concern. The primary source of lead exposure for young children is lead-based paints. Lead-based paints are likely present in the majority of houses built before 1980.

The Clark County Health Department provides blood lead level screening for children birth to six years of age. It is recommended that all children in this age range be screened and in some areas of Missouri, as the¬†law requires it. Medicaid regulations also require that children participating in that program be tested before their second birthday. If you don’t know if your child has been screened, ask your family doctor or pediatrician.

A health department nurse coordinates case management services for children identified as having elevated blood lead levels. Services include assuring that follow-up blood tests are conducted when appropriate and monitoring the results of those tests, educating parents on a variety of issues including how to reduce or eliminate their child’s exposure to lead, nutrition counseling and providing educational materials about lead poisoning. For more information, call (660) 727-2356.

Based on the results of blood tests, an environmental assessment may be performed for the purpose of determining the source or sources of lead exposure.