The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is working to prevent lead poisoning.
Doug Gillespie, DHHS Office of Environmental Health Hazards director, says his staff collects and analyzes blood test reports from across the state.
Results showing elevated levels of lead in children or adults in a certain area go on the map to help others there.
“If an individual is residing within that zip code that might be another indicator that they go in and get tested,” Gillespie tells Nebraska Radio Network.
He says very high levels of lead in blood tests triggers greater action, such as a home visit.
“So we take a device out on site to detect where this lead exposure may be,” according to Gillespie.
Even though lead poisoning is 100 percent preventable, DHHS investigates more than a handful of cases each month.
“It’s used in so many different things – in toys, building materials,” Gillespie says.
He says renovations in an older home need to thoroughly clean up dust and debris to prevent lead exposure.
“Parents unknowingly will conduct some renovations, which actually result in releasing a lot of this lead dust into the air and on the floors, and it can be picked up then by the children,” he says. “It’s just a parent’s worst nightmare to think that they may have contributed to their child getting poisoned.”
Gillespie says homes built before 1978 likely have lead based paint and some commercial buildings still do today.
Oct. 23-29 is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.