INDIANAPOLIS – Are your children being exposed to lead? Health experts say there’s a good chance. The state is urging parents to have kids tested. It’s part of new legislation that just went into effect.
“Children haven’t been getting tested,” said Paul Krievins, the director of Lead Poisoning Prevention at the Indiana State Department of Health.
Krievins and his team are bringing attention to a new law. House Enrolled Act 1313 went into effect January 1. It lets parents know the importance of testing.
“It requires providers to offer testing to every child aged 1-2, and if those children aren’t tested between 1 and 2, as soon as possible before they turn 7,” explained Krievins.
The Indiana Department of Health is launching a public awareness campaign through the website, IndianaLeadFree.org. It’s also conducting community outreach in several Indiana counties where exposure could be higher for families. Those counties are La Porte, Madison, Clinton, Allen, Grant, Vanderburgh, Marion, Clark, St. Joseph and Lake.
Lead poisoning can be dangerous for kids causing damage to the brain and nervous system and slow growth. Parents can keep an eye out for irritability, loss of appetite and vomiting. A simple prick to the finger could prevent those effects and more!
“We know about 60 percent of Indiana’s housing is built before 1980 and we know 1978 is when they stopped making lead paint,” said Krievins, “We expect there’s a large percentage of homes across Indiana that are exposed to this.”
In a separate initiative, there are 18 public library branches across Indianapolis that offer lead screening kits.
It’s a partnership with the IUPUI Center for Urban Health.
“You may find out that you’re fine. You may just find out you have a couple things you need to work on,” said Jill Edwards, the program specialist for the Indianapolis Public Library.
It’s free and easy to do.
“Stop in and let a library staff know that you’re here to pick up a lead kit. They have you fill out a quick consent form,” explained Edwards, “Then they bring the kit back and drop it off. The kit ends up back with me and to IUPUI and within a couple of weeks they have their results in e-mail.”
The Indiana State Department of Health hopes with this new year, comes new awareness to lead poisoning and the importance of testing. At this time, it’s hard to determine the number of Indiana kids impacted, because not enough children are being tested. This law will change that.
According to America’s Health Rankings by the United Health Foundation, last year, the Hoosier state ranked 34th when it comes to housing with lead risk. In this report, it says, more than 20 percent of available housing in Indiana has lead.
If your child does test high for lead, your doctor will alert the state who will contact your county to send out an environmental accessor. They’ll tell you exactly where the issue is and how to get rid of it safely.
“It’s an issue that’s important to everyone including parents, providers, everybody in the process that decides what’s best for the health of that child,” said Krievins.