Kentucky Lead Poisoning
October 14, 2004
A report by Kentucky's Environmental Quality Commission, funded in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is the state's first attempt to take a comprehensive look at the incidence of certain childhood illnesses and their potential relationship to the environment.
According to the report, childhood asthma cases requiring a stay in the hospital increased 45 percent from 2000 through 2003. The number of children tested for lead poisoning declined 57 percent from 1997 through 2002, despite lead poisoning still considered an ongoing problem with recommendations that children younger than age six be screened. In addition, Kentucky children are slightly above the national average for developing cancer.
The state health cabinet has said exposure to lead is another important problem among children six and younger. Ingesting paint chips or dust containing lead can result in brain damage, reduced attention spans and hyperactivity. Despite the continued risk of lead poisoning, the simple blood test to screen and prevent lead poisoning from causing irreversible damage has declined from 45,250 in 1996 to 19,418 in 2002.Lead poisoning in children is considered the most preventable environmental disease. The health cabinet has said it is working on a plan to improve its lead screening program.
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