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The mission of the Indiana Lead and Healthy Homes Program (ILHHP) is to eliminate the incidence of childhood lead poisoning in Indiana. This is being accomplished through screening for lead poisoned children, treatment of children who are lead poisoned, follow-up case management, and the remediation of the environmental causes of the disease.
Lead poisoning is a silent menace which often does not manifest itself until the damage is done. The disease can permanently and irreversibly damage the developing brains and other organs of young children. Serious effects can include lowered intelligence, behavior disorder, and slowed physical development. Once poisoned, a young child’s chances for academic, social and occupational success are significantly diminished.
Deteriorated lead-based paint in the child’s home environment is the primary source of lead poisoning. Young children, who are most vulnerable to the effects of lead poisoning, pick up lead dust from the floor and ingest it through hand to mouth activity. In recent years other sources of lead poisoning have come to light. Consumer products, such as children’s toys or inexpensive jewelry, often imported from countries where there are few restrictions on the use of lead, have resulted in some notorious cases of lead poisoning and even death. Still, any child living in a house built prior to 1978 is at the greatest risk of lead poisoning. The older the home the more likely there is lead paint.
Governor Pence has declared October 20-26 to be Indiana Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Nearly half a million children living in the United States have elevated blood lead levels that may cause significant damage to their health.” Using data from national surveys conducted in 2007-2008 and 2009-2010, this estimate is based on children with a blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter or higher. Major sources of lead exposure to U.S. children include lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in deteriorating residential buildings. These can be homes that children live in or regularly visit, like a childcare center. Children can also be exposed to lead from additional sources, including contaminated drinking water, take-home exposure from a parent or guardian’s workplace, and lead in soil.
Parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead in many ways. Here are some simple things that you can do to protect your family:
1. Get Your Home Tested: Before you buy an older home, ask for a lead inspection, or visit your local home improvement store to buy a lead test kit.
2. Get Your Child Tested: Even if your young children seem healthy, ask your doctor to test them for lead; lead poisoning often has no obvious or noticeable signs or symptoms. Free testing is available around the state.
3. Get the Facts: Your local health department can provide you with helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning.
Lead Paint: Indiana's Poisoned Children Extended Edition & Special Features (28:28)