This is Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and health officials are urging parents across Iowa to get their children tested for elevated lead levels. Kara Vogelson, the healthy homes coordinator at the Cerro Gordo County Health Department, says there are many possible causes for lead poisoning.

Vogelson says older paint in older homes is a big problem but when a child gets a lead test done there’s a risk questionnaire that covers a host of other possibilities and may determine how often a child should be tested. Typically, she says every child should be tested twice before age six.

Vogelson says adults can also be affected by lead poisoning, but the danger to children is far worse. She says in adults, it’s usually lead poisoning from a job or a hobby but in children, it’s usually exposure over time as they’re around the lead dust or they’re running their toys through the lead paint on window sills. It effects children differently from adults as lead poisoning can interfere with the their growing and learning processes.

Vogelson has suggestions for parents on keeping their kids safe, though she says the most important step is testing. Tips include: washing hands before meals, watching what children put in their mouths, making sure their toys are clean, and making sure they’re not eating non-food items like dirt or rocks.

Vogelson says it’s wrong to assume lead poisoning usually strikes lower-income people as she says it can be a risk for every child, regardless of their family’s economic status.