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The State of Indiana's Blood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program administered through the Indiana State Department of Public Health targets children under 6 for being the most at risk for lead poisoning due to both age related behavior and brain development.
Lead poisoning is totally preventable. The effects of lead poisoning are irreversible! Many children show no symptoms when they have been exposed to lead. Some symptoms like headaches, stomachache, and crankiness are often associated with other common diseases. Lead poisoning causes reduced intelligence, low attention span, reading and learning disabilities, and has been linked to juvenile delinquency, behavioral problems, and many other adverse health effects. High levels of lead can cause coma, convulsions, and death.
The majority of children poisoned by lead live in homes built and/or painted prior to 1978. These homes contain lead paint, which was outlawed in 1978. As lead paint deteriorates, it creates lead dust. A young child may get lead in their system through inhalation of this dust, or through ingestion of the lead dust that settles on the surfaces in their environment (toys, floor, window sills, clothing, etc.) when they put things in their mouth or fail to wash their hands before eating. Lead paint chips can also taste sweet and some children develop a habit of eating them.
Lead can also be introduced into a child's environment on the clothes of an adult that works in an industry that uses lead like the steel industry, battery factory, etc. Lead can also be found in imported or glazed ceramics, painted antique items, drinking water, and contaminated soil. Lead in soil is usually the result of lead paint from the exterior surfaces of homes painted with lead paint prior to 1978.