Posted: Aug 8, 2012 6:28 PM by Shannon Davis
Updated: Aug 9, 2012 12:03 AM
The Anaconda Public Health Department is offering free lead testing for children between the ages of 1 and 6.
"Children are the most vulnerable," said Linda Best, a nurse at the Anaconda Public Health Department.
Recently the health department received a grant through a program called Healthy Homes to test young children in the Anaconda area for lead. Lead is a concern for the people of Anaconda, according to Best.
Several of the homes were built before 1978 which means they could potentially be painted with lead-based paint.
"It retained its color without fading so it was very popular," said Heidi Neilson, the director of the Anaconda Public Health Department. "But lead can deteriorate."
Typically Best will go to the home of her patients to perform the lead testing. In doing this she can narrow down the source of the lead, such as chipped lead paint.
Lead paint becomes a fine microscopic dust that can end up in the air, the fabric of clothing, or on the ground where young children may be crawling or playing, according to Neilson.
"Infants are notorious for putting their hands in their mouths, and lead is very sweet-tasting," Neilson said.
The most common path for lead to end up in the blood stream is ingestion, Best said. It then sits inside the bones, especially in children who have a low calcium intake.
"Lead is a poison," Neilson said. "It causes neurological development delays."
The health department has tested 90 children and two have had levels that are concerning, according to Best. When they find these levels they suggest a healthy diet and a follow-up test in one year.
"We'd like their parents to be aware of it so they could be retested," Best said.
The grant wil end August 31, but the health department is hoping they can continue the program.
"We're hoping to continue to get funding to support that and continue to expand that in our community," Neilson said.