The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is teaming up with eighteen local health departments across the state to enhance the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
Epidemiologist Derry Stover says, “Nebraska received a new grant for three years from the CDC. The funding will support enhanced program efforts to reduce lead exposure and led poisoning to children in Nebraska under six years old. The new funding will allow DHHS and really our partners to work together to identify lead exposed children and link their families to services that help them find sources of lead in their homes and also take steps to prevent those exposures.” The grant totals $391,795.
In 2016, more than 34,000 children under six years old in Nebraska were tested for lead and 411 of them had elevated levels in their blood. Stover says exposure to lead can cause brain and nervous system damage, delayed growth and development, learning and behavior disturbances to hearing and speech impediments. Younger children are more vulnerable because their bodies grow rapidly.
The most common source of lead exposure is to lead in paint or paint dust in homes that were built before 1978. Stover says Nebraska has an older housing stock with about one-third of homes built before 1950 when lead based paints were commonly used. That paint can also contaminate yards causing exposure.