LEAD Action News Vol
1 no 4 Summer 1993
by Kathryn E. Mitchell, MS, RN and Cynthia Hobbie, MPH, RN, CPNA
[This article was first published for health care professionals in Minnesota. It sets the pace for lead health care in Australia.]
Lead poisoning is a serious environmental health hazard for children. Exposure to lead in early years, when the brain and nervous system are developing, is especially harmful. Recent studies indicate that even at low levels of exposure some toxic effects can be detected in neurological development. Children under six years of age are more likely to put lead - tainted objects into their mouths through frequent hand-to-mouth activity. In addition, the hands of children in leaded environments are often coated with leaded dust. Children absorb much more of the lead they ingest than adults do, and it crosses the blood-brain barrier more readily. The effects of lead toxicity are rarely detectable at the time of exposure. The symptoms are subtle, often leading to learning disabilities in later years. Because of these factors, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently lowered the guidelines for acceptable levels. Through routine screening of pediatric populations, children at risk of neurological damage can be identified early and treated. Health care providers not only provide this screening but also act as resources for educating parents and communities. The following resources are helpful in raising both health care provider and consumer awareness.
Materials for Health Care Professionals
This excellent manual, available for continuing medicine education, includes case studies in a step-by-step self-learning approach covering risk factors, exposure, health effects, clinical evaluation, treatment, management, standards and regulations. Order from Public Health Service ATSDR, Division of Health Studies, (404) 639-6205.
This publication outlines the new guidelines from the CDC and the appropriate interventions/ treatments. Order form CDC Lead Poisoning Department (404) 488-4880.
This comprehensive plan outlines in detail the first five years of a twenty year plan to eliminate childhood lead poisoning. Order from CDC Lead Poisoning Department, (404) 488-4880.
An excellent overview is presented in a sixteen-page booklet. Single copies available only. To order, call Dianne Kocourek Ploetz, Health Educator, Lead Program, Minnesota Department of Health, (612) 627-5018.
Materials for Consumers
This Advocacy program can provide a parent with a package of informational pamphlets written in laymen's terms. They also have a legislative/policy package for professionals. The Alliance has compiled a list of resources available state-by state. To order call (202) 543 1147.
Your local or state health department is another source of information for health care providers and consumers. Contact the lead poisoning prevention program or health education department and inquire about available resources. This may be the best source of handouts and fact sheets for parents. In Minnesota the health department provides fact sheets that explain lead poisoning, testing, prevention, and treatment and that give common sources and safe abatement of lead-based paint. Many of these fact sheets are available in foreign languages. Items already listed under materials for health professionals may be readily available through your health department.
The following educational video materials are also available for viewing in a clinic lobby or perhaps for making available for check out from the provider:
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