Lead poisoning ‘serious crisis in our community’

Children are the tragic victims of lead poisoning. Lead is a toxic metal that damages the development of the central nervous system, and can even be detected in bones and in their blood. Lead poisoning in children is a serious crisis in our community.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recognized that childhood lead poisoning is one of the most common pediatric health problems in the United States today, and is a preventable disease. It may even cause damage to children at low levels.

Lead poisoning has the worst effect on young, innocent children who are in their early years of development. This metal can cause many critical developmental problems, ranging from severe learning disabilities, attention deficit with hyperactivity, emotional and behavior problems, and speech impairments. It can also stunt normal growth, reduce attention and IQ, and, in rare cases, even cause death.

Lead poisoning is often caused by exposure to lead found in paint, soil, and household dust. According to the CDC, there are about 3 million tons of lead in more than 57 million homes built in the United States before 1989. The CDC is most concerned about the 15 million deteriorated homes that are believed to contain dangerous and deadly levels of lead paint, and its 3.8 million deteriorated homes where young, innocent victims live. (HUD, 1990)

In Illinois, the Lead Safety Housing Task Force and Loyola University Children Center state that the city of Chicago and the entire state of Illinois have some of the highest lead levels in the nation. Even sadder, the Illinois Department of Public Health has record of more than 80,000 children in Illinois, or more than 36 percent of all children, who tested positive for lead poisoning.

We, as concerned parents and role models, must increase community awareness of the detrimental importance of lead poisoning and how to reduce the contamination of our environment and homes. Our children are the future, and it is crucial that we take a stand against this silent killer. We must do our part as parents by having our children tested for lead. Many children go untreated and haven’t been tested.

Lead poisoning affects people of all races and walks of life. My son was a victim of this awful disease. When my son, Keason, was poisoned by lead, we as a family bonded together to give support to do our best to conquer this uninvited intruder. Please get your children tested. Children should never be taken for granted.

Rockford residents Angelic and Anthony Lowe are members of United Parents Against Lead. For more information, contact the Lowes at 815-964-7614.

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