A few recent incidents are serving as a reminder that childhood lead poisoning continues to be a serious concern in Iowa.
Kevin Officer, with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), says one Iowa toddler was recently hospitalized with unusually high blood-lead levels. Health inspectors found several lead-based paint hazards in the child’s home, which was built more than a century ago.
“One of the issues he had was he was actually picking at the paint and putting it in his mouth,” Officer says. In another recent case, a toddler was treated for lead poisoning after biting around windows in a rental home built in the early 1900s. Officer says children could be at higher risk for lead poisoning if they live in homes built before 1960.
Seven years ago, Iowa passed a law requiring kids be tested for lead poisoning before they enter grade school. “There has been, since about 2008, much more awareness of lead poisoning and the need to have kids under the age of six tested,” Officer says. Lead poisoning is a more widespread problem in Iowa, compared to other states, because Iowa has a lot of older homes in rural communities.
“In Iowa, we have a lot of rental properties and those properties aren’t always maintained as well over the years,” Officer says. “Those are a lot of the ones where we do see problems with renters who come and go and the maintenance isn’t always up to where it should be to maintain that paint.” An Iowa law that took effect in 2011 requires contractors and landlords to be “lead certified” to do work in homes and child-occupied facilities built prior to 1978.
More information about lead screening and the proper method for lead paint removal is posted on the IDPH website.