Lead Poisoning Can Be Prevented

Tunishia S. Kuykindall, AAS, BS
Environmental Technical Specialist/Master Healthy Homes Practitioner
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
Shelby County Health Department
814 Jefferson Ave.
Memphis, TN 38105
Office: 901-222-9128

Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

Lead poisoning is having too much Lead in the body.  Our bodies have no known use for Lead.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the level of concern in children 6 years-old and younger is 5µg/dL.  Younger children are the most susceptible to Lead poisoning and the harmful effects caused (learning disabilities, growth impairment, and death) due to continued brain development and hand-to-mouth activities.  Lead poisoning occurs in homes built on or before 1978 that were painted with Lead-based paint.  Children that have been poisoned usually have come in contact with Lead dust, but eating paint chips has also been observed.

Ways to avoid Lead poisoning include keeping paint in good repair and washing children’s hands and faces often.  The safest way to make sure repairs are completed correctly in older homes is to hire a Lead certified contractor to remove and restore any chipping/peeling paint.  If a child is Lead poisoned, the first step would be to remove the source of Lead.  If high levels of Lead are found in a child’s blood, chelation treatment is needed to prevent death.

Help through the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is available through two housing programs in our county:  Shelby County Housing Department HUD Lead reduction program and the Housing and Community Development program through the City of Memphis HUD program.  Lead certified contractors work through these programs to perform safe Lead renovations on residential properties for property owners who are unable to completely afford to maintain properties built on or before 1978 that house children.

Healthy Homes

The environment within our homes contributes greatly to our health.  There are seven main principles to maintaining a healthy home:  keeping our homes dry, clean, pest-free, ventilated, safe, contaminant-free, and maintained.

Keeping our homes dry and ventilated can be done by eliminating areas of excess moisture which can greatly reduce mold build-up as well as pests.  Repairing leaks and venting steam to areas outside of the home reduces moisture build-up.  Some ways to do so are to utilize bathroom fans while showering and kitchen vent fans while cooking.

Keeping our homes clean and pest-free involves removing clutter, dirt, dust, and trash.  Doing so makes our homes safer from causing injury, uninviting to pests, and reduces health issues such as asthma.  One way to keep a clean and pest-free home includes wet cleaning at least once per week instead of sweeping, which cause dust to become airborne and then settle again.

Keeping our homes safe and contaminant-free increases our health.  Ways to keep our homes safer are to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms as well as keeping all harmful objects, chemicals, and medicines out of the reach and sight of children.  To keep a home contaminant-free, it is important to not introduce tobacco smoke indoors.  Other ways to reduce contaminants are to avoid using volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (found in many air fresheners, sprays, certain glues, outdoor paints, or some building materials).  When installing new flooring or purchasing new furniture, open doors and windows to ventilate the house from the build-up of harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde.

Keeping our homes maintained prevents small problems from growing into larger problems.  A small hole in the home can allow entry for insects and also small rodents.  Cracks in a home’s foundation or leaks around windows can allow excess moisture to enter the home allowing mold growth.  Damaged gutters can also create a problem by not allowing moisture to travel away from a home.

Overall, maintaining a healthy, lead-safe home greatly impacts our health.  A healthy home equates to a healthier you.

Shelby County Health Department’s PSA on healthy homes and lead.

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