How lead poisoning affects children

Flint water crisis shines light on dangers of lead- contaminated water – but water is not the most common source of lead exposure for kids

lead-poisoningThe Flint water crisis has captured national headlines after reports that the city’s water had been contaminated with dangerously high levels of lead – and that children and other residents had unknowingly been drinking this water for more than a year.

This is upsetting and concerning news to pediatricians like me. We know lead is a neurotoxin. We know children are experiencing major brain development. Science tells us that this toxin could hinder learning, long term achievement, classroom performance and cause behavior and other issues for young people.

There is simply no safe level of lead, period.

What some people may not realize; however, is that water is not the most common source of lead exposure in our country. Lead from water accounts for an estimated 10-20 percent of elevated lead levels in children. The bigger risk for lead exposure is found in the buildings where children spend most of their time, usually their home, and sometimes a family member’s home, daycare, or school.

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