Columbus health dept. urges community to check houses, children for high lead levels

Columbus health department urges community to check houses, children for high lead levels

Columbus, GA (WTVM) -  If your home was built before 1978, there's a good chance it contains some amount of lead.

As part of a national awareness campaign, health officials in Muscogee County are working to inform homeowners about the dangers of lead poisoning.

Hal Weidman, the regional lead and healthy homes coordinator for the Columbus Department of Public Health, said the threat is more prevalent here in the Chattahoochee Valley.

"In Muscogee County, it's one of the top 14 highest risk for lead in the state of Georgia because of the age of housing," said Weidman. 

As Lead Poison Prevention Week continues, Weidman and other employees at the local Department of Public Health say the most vulnerable citizens are those who don't know about the lead inside their houses. 

"Children six or under spend a lot of time on the floor," he said. "If those walls and windowsills and floors are not kept up very well, start to deteriorate, then the children like to put their hands on the ground and then the dust goes in the mouth."

To better illustrate how little an amount of lead it takes to poison, Weidman said to imagine taking a sweetener packet, opening it up and divide the contents into a million crystals inside. 

He said all it would take is for a child to drink a half cup of liquid with 10 of those sweetener crystals. That's how much lead it takes to poison a child.

The Department of Public Health says any home built in Muscogee County before 1978 may contain lead paint or used materials containing lead. 

Still, Weidman said, there are other sources of lead exposure homeowners need to check.

"Paintings, stainglass windows, toys, jewelery from anywhere beyond North America and Europe can be an issue," he said. 

Symptoms of higher lead levels can range from irritablity, behavioral change to vomiting and loss in IQ. Weidman says if a parent wants to know if their family's healthy, there are two steps you must take.

"Test your home, test your child. The only way you'll know is to have your child tested or your home tested," he said. 

Experts like Weidman say the best way to see if a person has heightened lead levels is to have a physician draw their blood for tests.
Weidman also said if you believe your home may have high lead levels, there are contractors licensed by the state's environmental protection division who can test for these sources. 

Below there is a list of website links with more information on lead prevention:

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