Lead paint poisoning is the number one environmental health risk for young children (ages 1-6). Lead-based paint in older homes is the largest cause of childhood lead poisoning. Prior to 1978, lead paint was used on interior and exterior painted surfaces in residential buildings and dwellings. Lead paint presents a continuing hazard to children living in older homes, especially where there is peeling, chipped, or flaking paint and lead-contaminated household dust.
When swallowed, one chip of leaded paint can poison a child, but children, however, do not need to actually eat paint chips or paint flakes to get lead poisoning. Many young children are poisoned when they get lead dust on their hands or toys and then put their hands or toys in their mouths.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, "no safe blood lead level in children has been identified." CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/ The CDC estimates that there are children living in over 4 million households today who are being exposed to high levels of lead. The goal of the CDC's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is to eliminate blood lead levels of 10 µg/dL and above. According to the CDC, 535,00 U.S. children ages 1 to 5 years have blood levels high enough to damage their health. There are 24 million homes in the U.S. containing deteriorated lead-based paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated dust.
Symptoms of Lead Poisoning
Medical professionals, researchers, and public health officials all agree that lead is a neurotoxin that damages the developing brains of children. Chronic lead ingestion may cause or worsen anemia or iron deficiency and harm bone marrow, resulting in impairment of a child's bones, physical growth and development, language acquisition and motor function. The effects of childhood lead poisoning are irreversible in the body. Certain physical consequences, such as impact on kidney function or blood pressure, may not surface until adulthood.
Since the early 1990s, much of the attention of medical professionals, researchers and public health officials has been focused on the impact of lead on the developing brains of children. It is widely known that lead adversely affects children's performance on intelligence testing. In a variety of studies of groups of children, it has been shown that lead exposure negatively affects IQ (the measure of human intelligence) without relation to other factors, such as a child's genetic background or economic status.