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Lead testing down in Ohio

Placing state’s children in dangerous situation

Fewer children are being tested for lead poisoning in the state, which could mean more cases of lead poisoning could be going undetected.

An average of 12,357 children in Ohio receive lead testing in a normal, typical month, but that number has dropped to 9,833 a month, suggesting that 22,716 fewer children have received testing so far this year, according to information compiled by Community Legal Aid.

“No level of lead is safe, especially for children,” said Andrew Neuhauser, supervising attorney for Community Legal Aid’s Health, Education, Advocacy and Law Project. “When a child is exposed to lead, it can cause serious, long-term effects on the child’s health, behavior and development.”

While those effects can be devastating, they can be prevented if the issue is identified sooner rather than later, Neuhauser said.

“That makes regular lead testing extremely important,” he stressed, adding that “testing is quick and usually can be done as part of a child’s routine check-up.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3.6 million American households have children under 6 who live in homes with lead exposure hazards. Lead can be found inside and outside the home, including in water that travels through lead pipes or in the soil around the house.

The most common source of exposure is from lead-based paint, which was used in many homes built before 1978. Children can also become exposed to lead dust from adults’ jobs or hobbies and from or toys painted with lead-based paint.

Advocates point out that lead poisoning is largely preventable with increased testing and education. Local health departments can provide additional information on testing children and homes for lead.

For more information, visit www.communityle galaid.org/lead, or visit the website for your local health department.

Oct. 25-31 is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, a federal initiative sponsored by the CDC, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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