October is Lead Poisoning Prevention Month, and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) encourages all Mississippians to take action to protect themselves and their loved ones from lead poisoning.
A recent analysis conducted by MSDH’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program revealed high levels of lead poisoning in children in 16 of the state’s 82 counties: Adams, Coahoma, Forrest, Harrison, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Jones, Lauderdale, Leflore, Pike, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Warren, Washington and Yazoo.
Anyone can suffer from lead poisoning, but children are especially at risk because they like to put things in their mouths, and their bodies absorb lead more easily than adults’. Pregnant mothers can also pass lead through their bodies and to their babies.
Lead poisoning can result from:
- Swallowing chipped paint or lead-contaminated dust or soil
- Breathing in lead particles created by sanding or scraping old paint
- Swallowing or chewing products that contain lead, like fishing weights, pewter, and jewelry
- Drinking water from pipes or pumps made with lead, or breathing in lead particles while welding or soldering
- Exposure to lead-based house paint found in some older homes. People living in homes built before 1960 may be at increased risk for lead poisoning
Signs of lead poisoning include nausea, constipation, stomach pain, vomiting and loss of appetite, along with sleep disturbances, headaches and fatigue.
Over time, even small amounts of lead can cause serious and permanent health problems like brain and nervous system damage, lower IQ and learning disabilities, behavior problems, and hearing damage. Eventually, high levels of lead in the body can lead to convulsions, comas and death.
Contact the MSDH Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (601) 576-7447 for information about finding and removing lead hazards in the home and where to get a blood test to detect lead poisoning.