In our modern society, most children in industrialized countries do not have to worry about the black plague or yellow fever or other diseases that killed or damaged so many children in past centuries. There is, however, a much more prevalent and dangerous problem for children in our society: lead poisoning. Lead in the air, in paint, in soil call all have serious effects on children and can be far more dangerous than most types of cancer.
One of the Most Preventable Diseases
Despite the fact that it is possible to prevent any kind of lead exposure, most of the American public does not give a second thought to exposing their child to paint, dust, and soil, all of which can contain significant levels of lead.
Why is lead poisoning so dangerous? Lead’s most potent effect is on the neurological system, especially of children less than seven years old. In between ages one and seven, the neurological system is a crucial stage of development, and high levels of lead exposure during this time can damage the entire system. It has both short term and long term ripples, including learning disabilities and emotional and behavioral problems.
More than four million households have high levels of lead, in a number of different forms. Lead paint is one of the most common sources of exposure. The paint on the walls might contain lead, as well as the paint on toys and furniture. Because children are prone to putting anything and everything in their mouths, it’s not uncommon for a child living in a lead-painted environment to actually ingest flakes of lead paint.
There are currently about a half million children in this country between the ages of one and five that are living with more than five micrograms per deciliter of lead in their blood. This is above the level that the Center for Disease Control considers reasonable and at which they state that remediation should occur. While total overall levels of lead poisoning have started to decrease, lead continues to be an issue.
Children who eat lead paint will show physical signs of sickness, while children who are exposed to lead through pollution or dust will have now symptoms at the time of exposure, but will manifest some as the concentration of lead rises.