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Ohio reduces allowable lead levels in children's blood by half; 7,600 children expected to have elevated levels

Blood lead levels

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(NaturalNews) Lead poisoning is the greatest environmental threat to children, according to the Ohio Department of Health, which recently announced plans to reduce the safety threshold for lead in children's blood. The state is following the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) lead on taking lead poisoning more seriously.

In 2012, the CDC updated their federal recommendations regarding blood lead levels in children. Experts now use a reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter to identify children ages six and younger with lead poisoning, rather than the previous 10 micrograms.

For Ohio, the new standard could mean taking responsibility for treating 7,600 kids that have what are now considered elevated lead levels in their blood, according to a report by The Columbus Dispatch. Using the 5 micrograms per deciliter measurement, about 1,500 children are considered to have high levels of lead in their blood.

Under new CDC standard, number of Ohio children with elevated lead levels in their blood quintuples

Young children exposed to even low levels of lead can suffer serious and lasting health effects, including lower IQs, ability to pay attention and academic achievement, according the CDC.

"The state statute requires us to follow the CDC guidance," said John Belt, field-services section administrator for the Ohio Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

The city of Columbus is also expected to independently enforce the new standard, which according to the CDC, is intended to serve as a preventive measure, reducing and even eliminating dangerous sources of lead before the problem worsens.

"We will definitely be following state guidelines," said Jose Rodriguez, spokesman for Columbus Public Health.

Exactly which program will be used to treat the number of new cases, which has grown fives times larger than it previously was, is unknown. However, some believe that the city's lead-abatement program could provide oversight.

Ohio receives millions in federal aid to curb lead exposure in low-income families

Under the revised lead threshold, Ohio says it plans to contact families with children who have elevated lead levels in their blood and ask questions about their living conditions before advising them on the proper steps to take.

Columbus recently received $3.5 million in federal funding to address lead in 250 homes where low-income families reside, adding to the 513 housing units that have been made "lead-safe" since 2007.

Another $400,000 in federal grants is expected to be allocated to the state's Healthy Homes Program, a project tasked with "building healthy homes awareness" through inspectors hired to test for lead-tainted homes as well as for other hazards such as mold.

"We see it as a great opportunity to provide additional assessments for the city of Columbus to identify hazards for people who live in those homes," said Luke Jacobs, the environmental-health section chief for Columbus Public Health.

The state program reportedly also works with homes outside of the city, teaching families about the dangers of elevated lead levels and offering advice for how to clean lead-tainted buildings.

Although lead paint was banned in 1978, many facilities, homes and other buildings still have lead contamination from the old paint, or improper cleaning following renovations.

Nearly 200,000 Columbus homes are believed to still have lead paint, according to Kim Stands, the city's housing administrator, who acknowledges that the lower standard means a lot more work for the city's lead-abatement program.

An estimated 2.5 million Ohio homes were built before 1950, with about 90 percent of them having lead paint. From 1950 to 1978, an additional 1 million homes were built, and about 40 percent of those are believed to contain lead paint.









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