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Doctors Call for Lead Rule Revisions

Monday, June 27, 2016

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American pediatricians say current lead rules provide only the “illusion of safety.”   

No amount of lead exposure is safe for children, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a policy statement published Monday (June 20) in The Journal of Pediatrics.

doctor and child
© iStock.com / KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Pediatricians and other primary care providers should screen children for elevated lead levels if they are between 1 and 2 years of age and live in areas where 25 percent or more of housing was built before 1960, AAP recommends in a new policy statement.

“Most existing lead standards fail to protect children,” said Dr. Jennifer Lowry, chair of the AAP Council on Environmental Health and an author of the policy statement. “They provide only an illusion of safety. Instead we need to expand the funding and technical guidance for local and state governments to remove lead hazards from children's homes, and we need federal standards that will truly protect children.”

Exposure Sources

While lead is no longer used in paint, gasoline and many other consumer products, children are still exposed to the toxic metal. Of particular risk are those who live in older homes that are poorly maintained or being renovated, the doctors group said.

It is estimated that 37 million homes in the U.S. still contain lead-based paint and 6 million homes receive drinking water through lead pipes.

Until recently, children were considered to have a blood lead “level of concern” if they tested at a concentration of 10 or more micrograms per deciliter. However, evidence now suggests problems begin much sooner, AAP states. Lower IQ scores and academic performance, inattention, impulsivity, aggression and hyperactivity are a few of the problems seen at less than 5 micrograms per deciliter, AAP said in the statement.

Updates Urged

AAP says new federal standards defining and testing for lead hazards in house dust, water and soil would go a long way toward protecting youngsters.

Lead hazards
© iStock.com / Darren Townsend

The AAP calls for new requirements that lead be removed from contaminated housing and child care buildings.

The organization also urges legal requirements that lead be removed from contaminated housing and child care facilities. For example, every $1 invested to reduce lead hazards in housing units, would save society an estimated $17 to $221—a cost-benefit ratio comparable with that for childhood vaccines, the organization said.

"Eliminating lead from anywhere children can be exposed to it should be a national priority," said AAP President Benard Dreyer, MD.

Recommendations

Pediatricians and other primary care providers should screen children for elevated lead levels if they are between 1 and 2 years of age and live in areas where 25 percent or more of housing was built before 1960, AAP recommends.

The group also advises monitoring children with blood lead concentrations of more than 5 micrograms per deciliter.

   

Tagged categories: Government; Health and safety; Lead; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP); Lead rule; Regulations

Comment from Jesse Melton, (6/27/2016, 9:05 AM)

How is "from $7 -$221" an estimate? If I quoted job estimates like that people would think I was nuts.


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