Writer and concerned mother, Carissa Howard, is trying to get a handle on one of the nation’s, and Allegheny County’s, urgent public health crisis — lead poisoning in children:

According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), today at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. There are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated. BUT, no safe blood lead level in children has been identified.

 

Like so many young parents who are too young to remember leaded gasoline and lead-based paints, lead poisoning entered Howard’s consciousness three years ago:

When the news broke in 2014 about evaluated lead levels in Flint, Michigan’s water, I, like many parents, was outraged. Thousands of residents had drank polluted Flint River water for 18 months before the disaster was even recognized. Many children were lead poisoned. The consequences of the exposure of elevated levels of lead are still unfolding.

 

Howard points us to a recent study showing that the Flint lead-in-water crisis resulted in lower fertility rates and higher rates of fetal deaths. Oona Goodin-Smith adds that term pregnancies resulted in more newborns with low birth weight during the period of water contamination with lead:

According to Slusky and Grossman’s analysis, after Flint switched its water source from Detroit to Flint River water in 2014, the city’s fertility rates decreased by 12 percent among Flint women, while fetal death rates rose by 58 percent.

The overall health of Flint children at birth decreased as well, compared with children from other Michigan cities, the study reported.

 

Writing for Pittsburgh Moms Blog, Howard zooms in to find Allegheny County struggling with similar water quality and lead issues. She provides a thorough review of “What Every Pittsburgh Parent Needs to Know About Lead Poisoning”:

In July 2016, testing by Pittsburgh Water and Sewage Authority (PWSA), serving 83,000 customers in Pittsburgh and surrounding communities, reported higher-than-allowed lead levels in its tap water samples. The reported lead levels in July 2016 and December 2016 were over 15 ppb, thus requiring PWSA to take remedial action under the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards in connection with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

As a concerned Pittsburgh parent, I had followed this issue, off and on, but admittedly, it had fallen off my immediate radar. Like all parents, things like scheduling work around the school calendar, dinnertime, homework, and the to-do list take my daily attention. But, I’ve tried to summarize what every concerned parent might need to know about lead exposure. At least, I hope that you could use this as a starting place to (re)educate yourself on this continuing issue.

 

We’ve covered this topic in detail many times before, and I am grateful that Carissa Howard was able to use The PediaBlog as a resource for her comprehensive exploration of childhood lead poisoning.  You can click on the many source links throughout her detailed article, or check out The PediaBlog’s index on lead poisoning here to read more.

 

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