Mom warns of lead poisoning, encourages testing - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Mom warns of lead poisoning, encourages testing

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Lead paint has been banned for commercial and residential use since 1978.  But many older homes in Iowa still have it.

It's especially dangerous to young children, under age 6, who are at most risk for eating paint chips and breathing in paint dust particles.  That's why one local mom, and health experts, are encouraging you to have your kids tested for lead.

Michelle Smith's son Kobe is about to turn two.  He's a happy little guy, but is taking medicine for a serious condition:  lead poisoning.

"I like to keep my kids in the house so I can keep them safe, and it was my house that was dangerous," Smith said.

Kobe's blood lead levels were six times the acceptable amount.  It's thanks to the Black Hawk County Health Department's door-to-door program that his lead poisoning was caught.  Like so many parents, Michelle had no idea Kobe was sick

"There's no signs or symptoms to lead poisoning.  The only way you can tell is by blood work," Smith said.

And it's a good thing Kobe's illness was found early.  Because without treatment, lead can cause serious health problems.

"Children with chronic or long-term exposure can develop issues later on in school:  many learning disabilities, behavioral disorders," Mike Prideaux, Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Coordinator for the Black Hawk County Health Department.

The Health Department partners with Waterloo Community Development through a Housing and Urban Development grant to fund lead poisoning awareness efforts, including the door-to-door checks that found Kobe's lead poisoning.  And it encourages all families to have young children screened.

"You may think you have no problem, but you would not believe the number of times I've spoken with parents who've had no clue their child was severely lead poisoned, and it's totally preventable," said Prideaux.

As for Michelle Smith, her landlord is now fixing the home's lead paint problems, and Kobe's well on his way to a full recovery.

To learn more about the health department's childhood lead poisoning prevention program, you can call (319) 291-2206.

The city of Waterloo even offers a program for homeowners with kids under age 6, living in a house built before 1978, to apply for money that can repair lead paint problems before your kids get sick.  Eligible families can get up to $35,000 dollars in assistance.  To learn more, just call (319) 291-4429.

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