LEAD Action News

LEAD Action News Vol 1 no 4 Summer 1993   ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News ( ISSN 1440-0561)
The journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.

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Lead Toxicity

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

  • Case Studies in Environmental Medicine: Lead Toxicity (United States Department of Health and Human Services; Public Health Service Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, June 1990.)

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.

  • Preventing Lead Poisoning in Young Children (Atlanta, Georgia: United States Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, 1991.)

This publication outlines the new guidelines from the CDC and the appropriate interventions/ treatments. Order form CDC Lead Poisoning Department (404) 488-4880.

  • Strategic Plan for Elimination of Childhood Lead Poisoning (United States Department of Health and Human Services, 1991.)

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.

  • Lead Poisoning and Children (Health and Environment Digest, 1991.)

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

  • Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning (Washington, D.C.).

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:

  • Lead Poisoning: It Doesn't Have to Happen (10 minutes). Cost $12.00. Send cheque or money order to Pennsylvania Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics, Dayton Building, Suite 220, 610 Old Lancaster Road, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010. For additional information, call Pennsylvania Academy of Pediatrics, (215) 520-9123.

  • Lead Poisoning. This 22-minute video describes what lead poisoning is and is not and how a child can become lead poisoned; it gives practical tips on how to prevent lead poisoning. This video is a good overview of the lead poisoning problem. Narrated in the Hmong language.  The language of refugees from the hills of southeast Asia. An English script is also provided with the video. Send letter requesting permission to copy video. State intended use. number of copies you will be making and target audience. Address to: Dianne Kocourek Ploetz. Health Educator. Lead Program. Minnesota Department of Health. 925 Delaware Street S. E .. P. O. Box 59040. Minneapolis. MN 55459-0040; telephone (612) 627-5018.

  • Lead in the Blood. This 20 minute video shows the sequence of events that will occur once a child has been diagnosed as having been lead poisoned. Topics of discussion include why we are concerned about lead poisoning, the environmental assessment of the home, the hospitalization of the child, and medical follow-up. This videotape is for use with the parents and other concerned adults who live with a child who has been lead poisoned. This video is narrated in the Hmong language. An English script accompanies the video.

  • Kids and Lead Hazards: What Every Family Should Know. Cost: $24.95. Produced by Consumer Reports and Connecticut Public Broad­casting, June 1991. To order, call (800) 323-4222, ext. 44.

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