Doctors warn that there is no safe level of lead exposure in humans and inadequate testing procedures and misconceptions that smaller amounts are not harmful has led to increased instances of lead poisoning in children in Southern Nevada. Once lead enters the system, it can cause serious consequences with potentially fatal results.
Childhood Lead Exposures in Southern Nevada are Rising
Less than 3% of children in Nevada are tested for lead exposure. In 2015, 43 instances of lead poisoning were reported. This rose to 175 in 2017. Of these, 100 were children. This increase has triggered many theories about why the lead poisoning rates are rising in Southern Nevada.
However, researchers have yet to identify any one particular source. Aside from surveillance programs within Las Vegas, there is no mandatory blood lead reporting in Nevada. Therefore, the problem may be much greater than researchers are willing to fathom.
Impact of Lead Exposure
Lead exposure can cause seizures and comas. It can also lead to poor educational performance, diminished IQ, behavioral problems, and in severe cases, premature death. It doesn’t take much to have a negative impact. As little as 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood are all it takes to trigger these consequences.
Most lead exposures involve cumulative exposures. This means that the child is repeatedly exposed to a particular source. These repeated exposures increase the level of lead within the child’s blood. In most cases, the toxic exposure is not identified until after the child shows noticeable symptoms such as developmental delays, physical health problems, or behavioral issues.
Potential Sources of Lead Poisoning
There are many potential sources of lead poisoning. These include paint and coatings used around the home. Dust, soil, and even the drinking water from the tap can also contain trace levels of lead.
Lead contaminants can become airborne in the wind, or found within the jewelry and toys that children wear and play with during the day. It is routinely found in folk medicines and cosmetics that children may gain access to.
Because there are many potential sources, parents need to be proactive in protecting their children. This involves carefully screening toys, clothing, and cosmetics. It also requires removing or securing potential sources such as paints and chemicals within the home.