After the Flint Water Crisis that exposed 6,000-12,000 children to lead poisoning, water toxicity is becoming a topic that (rightfully so) remains in the forefront of parents’ minds. In New Jersey, several schools within the city of Newark showed elevated levels of lead. The same is true in Howland, Ohio and other cities nationwide. The question remains: is the water that your children ingests really safe?
According to experts, there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially when dealing with children who are most vulnerable to its effects. Even small amounts of lead can be incredibly dangerous, as the levels build up in your body over time. For children 6 and under, it’s an even bigger risk since they are still physically developing and absorb it easier than adults do. It can hinder or damage brain development, which is why it’s not something that you want your child to come into contact with. Other issues that it can cause for children are behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches, anemia, seizures, coma, and even death. Yet more than half a million children ages 1-5 have blood lead levels higher than the “level of concern” which is 5 micrograms per deciliter.
Why is that number so high? Well, part of the issue is that it can be hard to detect the signs of lead poisoning. Below are some indicators that you need to be on the lookout for with your child:
- Fatigue, lethargy, or hyperactivity
- Weight Loss
- Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
- Poor Appetite
- Metallic taste in mouth
- Learning difficulties or reduced cognitive abilities
- Slowed growth
The other part of the equation is that while testing is getting better due to the latest crises, it’s something that needs to happen much more frequently and consistently in order to keep our children safe from harm. If you are worried about the piping system at your child’s school, get in touch with the school administration and talk to them about having the water tested.
Even the soil that children play in might be contaminated with lead, especially if it’s in an urban area or near busy roads. Keep this in mind when choosing where to live so that you children can get into a safer, more environmentally friendly district. Both inside and outside of school, take extra precautions to ensure that your child isn’t around or in contact with contaminated soil. What can you do?
- Don’t let your children play in soil near industrious areas or roadways.
- Do wash their hands and clothes after playing outdoors.
- Do mop or wet-wipe your floors and interior surfaces to remove dust that may be contaminated.
If you suspect that your water may be supplied by lead pipes (or even worry about it in the slightest), then there are also several things you can do at home to help avoid contaminated water.
- Make sure you have a water filter. This can be an inexpensive fix to a potentially dangerous issue.
- Run the water for several seconds at each tap before use.
- Only use cold water for drinking or cooking, and especially for baby formula.
You can also contact your local water supply to inquire about the levels of lead in their system or have your own, home water tested by a certified lab. You can contact the EPA’S Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 or get in touch with state or local authorities to determine how to get your water tested.
The U.S National Toxicology Program also classified lead as “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens”. In other words, it is thought to be quite capable of causing cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Environmental Protection Agency concurred—the results are in that lead is not something you want to mess around with. Studies have shown links between lead and kidney tumors as well as tumors of the brain, lung, stomach, and other organs in the body.
If you haven’t been concerned about lead contamination before reading this, it’s time to reevaluate. No dangerous risk such as lead poisoning is worth your future or your child’s future. Now that it’s almost time to head back to school, make sure your child is protected when they do!
Connor, Tracy. “Is There Lead in Your Kid’s School Water? NBC Surveys 20 Big Cities”. NBC News. Written May 5, 2016. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/there-lead-your-kid-s-school-water-nbc-surveys-20-n567126. Accessed August 3, 2016.
Dennis, Brady. “Schools around the country find lead in water, with no easy answers”. Washington Post. Written July 4, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/schools-around-the-country-find-lead-in-water-with-no-easy-answers/2016/07/03/b44240fe-37c3-11e6-a254-2b336e293a3c_story.html. Accessed August 3, 2016.
“Lead: What is Lead?” American Cancer Society. Revised May 27, 2014. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/lead. Accessed August 3, 2016.
Mercola, Joseph MD. “Why Lead is So Dangerous for Children”. Written April 18, 2013. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/04/18/children-lead-exposure.aspx. Accessed August 3, 2016.