*Although lead paint was banned in 1978, traces can still be found in older homes, especially those in city centers. Nearly three-quarters of U.S. homes have traces of lead paint. Consequently, many cases of lead poisoning still happen.
Children aged six or under are most at risk for lead poisoning due to dusty, unwashed hands, and the higher tendency to put things in their mouths. Since children are also still growing, lead poisoning can have detrimental effects on their development.
In 2013, around 60,000 children had reported cases of lead exposure in Connecticut alone. Of those, 2,275 had more than five micrograms per deciliter of blood — enough to be considered poisoned.
Despite that number, lead testing is very strict among children in Connecticut. In fact, their lead testing policies are more strict than those at the federal level. Connecticut laws require every child to be screened for lead twice before the age of three, but the Department of Public Health shows that very few children got their second screening.
Because the state lead laws exceed the federal laws, many physicians do not take the testing seriously, rarely requiring a second round of testing. Recently, however, Connecticut officials held a public forum on Monday, Sept. 12, to address lead screening in children.
The effects of lead poisoning are irreversible in most cases, unless it’s detected and treated immediately. For children who are not so lucky to receive immediate care, hearing loss, learning disabilities, speech delays, and hyperactivity can all stem from lead poisoning.
More immediate effects, though, like fatigue, abdominal pain, irritability, constipation, or diarrhea, are all more common among children, and are often overlooked by parents and physicians.
Lead poisoning can also lead to statewide costs to taxpayers to increase special education programs, often treating children that have been affected by lead.
Currently, the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center sponsors a program to promote healthy homes for children. “Healthy Homes” provides lead home inspections and safe removal, financial assistance for reconstruction, temporary relocation assistance, low-cost home weatherization program referrals, and lead hazard education. The program receives funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the State of Connecticut Department of Housing.