Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

  Jasper County Health Department runs a Childhood Lead Prevention Program funded by the EPA. This program provides free case management and environmental services to Jasper County families who have children with elevated blood lead levels and also provides blood lead testing for children between the ages of 6 and 72 months and for pregnant or nursing mothers. Testing is provided at the Jasper County Health Department, the Joplin City Health Department, and even at the home of the client if transportation is a concern. An appointment is needed for this test. We are also available to participate in Health Fairs and other public events and can offer lead testing on site.

Children should have a lead test once a year beginning at 6 months of age until they reach 6 years of age. This is recommended because of the tendency of children in this age group to put many items in their mouths and to have poor hand washing habits. Lead enters the body through hand-to-mouth activity or through ingestion from another source. It can also enter the body by being inhaled in dust form. This is seen most often in adults who are conducting remodeling activities. Children, however, who are present when these activities are taking place, are likely to find a way to ingest lead dust created by these activities. For example, if an adult was sanding old lead paint which was creating a dust, a 9 month old child may crawl across the floor and get the dust on their hands. From here a child of this age is highly likely to put their fingers in their mouth and get lead into their system. Other common sources of lead poisoning are lead contaminated soil, chipping or peeling paint in the home or a residence the child visits frequently, water, or even toys.

Blood lead tests are important because there is no other way to confirm that a child has lead poisoning. Many of the symptoms of lead poisoning are often confused with symptoms of other illnesses. If lead continues to enter the body and/or is present within the body for a long period of time, it may cause lasting harm to the brain, kidneys and nervous system.

The blood lead test consists of taking a very small venous blood sample. If there is difficulty in locating a good vein for this purpose, a finger prick sample may be obtained; however, the venous sample is preferred because it is more accurate and often faster and less painful for the child. If the lead level in the blood is found to be greater than 10 micrograms per deciliter, the Childhood Lead Prevention Program will offer case management services until the child receives two consecutive blood tests below this level.

Case management services consist of a home visit by our lead nurse who will provide lead education and also, our environmental health specialist for the lead program will offer an environmental assessment of your property. This includes testing of the soil, paint, water and dust on the property for lead contamination to determine where the child may have come into contact with lead. It is very important for the family to know the source of lead in order to prevent the child from becoming poisoned further. Once the sources of the lead are determined the environmental specialist can work with the family to help find ways to make the problem areas inaccessible to the child or to give advice on proper control and abatement measures.