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Exposure to lead continues to poison young children in the United States.
Estimates based on data from 1999 through 2002 indicate that 310,000
U.S. children between the ages of one and five remain at risk for exposure
to harmful lead levels. The U.S. estimated prevalence rate (total number
of cases out of the total number screened) is 1.6% for children in
age group. However, blood lead levels
(BLLs) remain higher for certain populations, especially children in
minority populations, children from low-income families, and children
who live in older homes. Lead exposure can cause devastating and irreversible
From 1999-2003 more than 1,500 of the 29,000 St. Louis City children
less than age 6 were poisoned
by lead each year. The good news is that lead poisoning is entirely
preventable. In 2003, Mayor Francis G. Slay introduced the “Comprehensive
Action Plan to Eliminate
Childhood Lead Poisoning in St. Louis by 2010”. This plan
focuses on prevention of childhood lead poisoning. By 2007 the
the plan has helped the City reach its first important goal: to cut
childhood lead poisoning in half in four years. But even with this
progress, one child in 20 in the City of St. Louis has a blood lead
level at or above the CDC
of concern. You have the power to help protect
your children and family from the dangers of lead poisoning. Current
rates of lead poisoning may be found at BY
What is lead?
is a metal that can be found in sources such as paint used in homes
built before 1978, soil, water, old painted furniture and toys. Approximately
38 million homes in the United States still contain lead-based paint.
Four million of these are home to one or more young children. The
problem is not confined to poor families or caused mainly by children
eating paint chips. It is usually the result of swallowing invisible
lead dust created by chipping, peeling or flaking paint in older homes
and rental units.
In St. Louis City more than 90 percent of the housing was
built before 1978, the year lead in residential paint was banned.
More than 60 percent of the housing in the City was built before 1950,
when lead concentrations in paint were much higher. Millions of dollars
are being spent to make housing lead
safe. But houses that are lead safe today may poison
children later if they are not properly maintained. Remember, you
have the power to help protect your children and family from the dangers
of lead poisoning.
Why is lead so dangerous?
Lead poisoning causes irreversible physical and mental disabilities,
and can affect nearly every system in the body. The effects of lead
• Learning disabilities
• Attention Deficit Disorder
• Aggressive and violent behavior
• Hearing loss
• Reduction of motor control/balance
• Mental retardation
Lead often enters the body when children put their hands or other
objects covered with lead dust into their mouths or, less commonly,
eat paint chips or soil that contains lead. Lead poisoning may also
result from breathing in lead dust created during renovation or home
is at risk for lead poisoning?
Children under the age of six are most at risk for lead poisoning.
Lead disrupts proper brain development during these years.
Pregnant women, and their unborn children, are also at risk. Elevated
blood lead levels in pregnant women can lead to an increased risk
of miscarriage, stillbirth or low birth weight babies.
Adults are also at risk of being poisoned with effects ranging from
high blood pressure to a higher risk of early death.
Where is lead most often found in your home?
We're surrounded by sources of lead throughout our environment.
Small children are most often poisoned by invisible lead dust that
is released when paint is peeling, damaged or disturbed. This can
often be caused by the opening and closing of windows, doors that
rub or old painted surfaces that have been dry sanded. The dust settles
on floors and other surfaces, which can easily get on children's hands
or toys and into their mouths.
can be found in or caused by:
• Peeling, chipping or damaged lead-based paint on windows,
doors, stairs, railings and other areas of the home
• Bare soil contaminated with lead
• Hobbies or jobs (contractors, painters, highway work, stained
glass or furniture refinishing)
• Drinking water (lead pipes, solder, brass fixtures and valves
can all leach lead)
Other sources of Lead Poisoning:
• Imported vinyl mini-blinds
• Candles with leaded wicks
• Old lead-glazed bath tubs
• Imported plastic toys
• Imported crayons
• Folk remedies and/or vitamins (Greta, Arzacon, Pay-loo-ah,
• Car batteries and paints
TEST YOUR CHILD
of lead poisoning are difficult to detect until a child is seriously
poisoned. Children in all of St. Louis City under 6 years old are
required by state law to be tested for lead every year.
Insist that your child be tested if you live in the City of St. Louis
and your child lives in or regularly visits a home or building built
before 1978. If your health care provider will not order the test,
your child may be tested for free at the City of St. Louis Department
of Health Lead Health Services section at 1520 Market Street,
Scheduled free testing events are also offered around the City. Look
and locations on
the Calendar of this
What can you do to protect your children from lead poisoning?
There are many things a parent can do to help keep children safe from
• Wash your hands before preparing foods.
• Make sure your child's hands, pacifier, bottles and toys are
• Do not dry scrape old paint. Only wet scrape and immediately
wet clean afterwards.
• If you hire someone to make changes to your home, make sure
they are certified to do lead safe renovation, repair, and painting
Do not dry sweep. Use wet or damp cleaning methods for floors and
surfaces. Always clean sponges and mop heads after use.
• Use only cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking and
making baby formula. Hot water from older pipes is more likely to
contain higher levels of lead.
• Avoid using materials with lead when doing hobbies or crafts.
• Use vacuums with HEPA filters. Lead
Safe St. Louis has
HEPA vacuums available to borrow.
• Don't let children play in bare soil.
• If you rent, notify your landlord of any chipping, peeling
or flaking paint.
on www.leadsafestlouis.org is provided in part from documents
developed by the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning:
Chips Flakes Peels Dust © and Derek the Dinosaur’s
Coloring Book About LEAD ©. All materials are available
for jurisdiction specific customization and purchase through
to End Childhood Lead Poisoning.