One in 14 children in Iowa suffers from lead poisoning; this is four times the national average.
Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. The key is stopping children from coming into contact with lead and treating children who have been poisoned by lead.
The main sources of exposure for children are lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust in homes built prior to 1978. Iowa ranks in the top six states with the oldest housing stock.
All children under the age of 6 years old are at risk because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands or other objects, which may be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths.
However, children living at or below the poverty line who live in older housing are at greatest risk.
The Iowa West Foundation awarded West Central Community Action a $5,000 grant to assist the Women Infant and Children program (WIC) with lead testing for low-income children under the age of five in southwest Iowa. Children are tested when they attend their monthly WIC appointments and through Head Start preschool programs.
If you have additional questions regarding blood lead screening and prevention of childhood lead poisoning, please contact your county or state health department. The Council Bluffs Public Health Department, located at 209 Pearl Street, can be reached at (712) 328-4666.
West Central Community Action has been serving residents of southwest Iowa for more than 40 years through a variety of self-sufficiency programs. For more information visit them online or call 712-755-5135.