So I don’t know about you guys, but the holidays wore me out! My favorite holiday is over and although it’s a little sad, it’s also a relief. Now that the New Year is almost here, you can finally go to Walmart without waiting in a 20 person line and shop for yourself without feeling guilty. Finally!
Even though the holidays can be exhausting, there’s still one more thing you should do before you relax: check your children’s presents. Gifts that include toys or toy jewelry can sometimes contain lead hazards. Lead is toxic to humans and can cause many adverse health effects when ingested.
Symptoms of lead poisoning include: irritability, high blood pressure, headache, abdominal pain, mood disorders, miscarriage, joint or muscle pain, constipation, and weight loss. In children younger than six, exposure to lead can result in mental or physical development delays, seizures, and hearing loss. The symptoms of lead poisoning don’t manifest immediately. Most of these symptoms don’t appear until dangerous amounts of lead have accumulated (Mayo Clinic).
If you think you, or your child, may have been exposed to lead, testing is quick and easy. The Grafton-Taylor County Health Department offers free lead testing to the citizens of Taylor County. To measure the amount of lead in your system, a blood test is required. But don’t worry, we don’t need a lot of blood. Our nurses will simply prick your finger and the results are available within minutes. Easy, right?
Although the testing process is so simple, it’s still better to take precautions and prevent exposure beforehand. The most common source of lead poisoning is lead-based paint. This paint was used in older buildings, and is still sometimes used in children’s toys. In the U.S., using lead-based paint for children’s toys is prohibited, but toys that are imported don’t always follow the same rules. Even with these rules, sometimes toys made in the U.S. are found to contain the dangerous substance.
Because lead is invisible to the naked eye and has no natural scent, checking for lead in toys isn’t as easy as we’d like it to be. New toys can be tested by laboratories or do-it-yourself kits. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision (CPSC) also releases information and recalls on toys that could potentially expose children to lead (CDC).
Clearly, exposure to lead isn’t something we should take lightly. So if your child received a toy on Christmas that raises suspicion, go online and do some research. Or, if you think your child may have already been exposed to a toy with lead, make an appointment as soon as you can. Making an appointment is as easy as calling one of our Public Health Nurses at 304-265-1288 or visiting our website at www.GTCHDWV.org.