Kevin Officer, a community health consultant, says thousands of Nebraska kids are tested for lead every year and several hundred are typically found to have high lead levels in their bodies.
Officer says old houses are part of the problem.
“If you live in a home that was built prior to 1950, then there should be an assumption that the paint in that home is lead paint,” Officer says. “Take a look. Is that paint chipping, is it peeling, is it somehow in bad condition and does it need to be repaired?”
In many parts of the U.S., lead in the water due to old pipes is a problem, but here in Nebraska, old house paint is usually the prevalent culprit. About one-third of Nebraska’s houses were built before 1950 when lead-based paints were commonly used.
“Working with parents on hygiene, keeping kids’ hands clean and keeping the home clean,” Officer says. “Home cleanliness is one way to minimize and reduce that exposure in kids.”
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week highlights ways parents can reduce children’s exposure to lead in their home environment and prevent serious health effects and learning disabilities.
“One of the areas we want to focus on the most is testing kids at the earliest ages, which is 12 months,” Officer says. “One-year-olds, two-year-olds and three-year-olds, at the point where they’re really beginning to develop to catch it early.”
In 2016, more than 34,000 Nebraska children under six years old were tested for lead and 411 of them had elevated levels in their blood.
The three themes of this year’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Week are: Get The Facts, Get Your Home Tested, and Get Your Child Tested.