AAP: No Amount of Lead Exposure Is Safe for Children

American Academy of Pediatrics calls for stronger regulations and new laws to protect children

MONDAY, June 20, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- No amount of lead exposure is safe for children, and stricter regulations are needed to protect youngsters from this serious health threat, according to new recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), published online June 20 in Pediatrics.

The AAP notes that new federal standards defining and testing for lead hazards in house dust, water, and soil are needed. The group also wants to see laws that require removal of lead from contaminated housing and child care facilities, and that lead concentrations in water from school water fountains are not higher than 1 part per billion.

Pediatricians and other primary care providers should screen children for elevated lead levels if they are between 1 to 2 years of age and live in areas where 25 percent or more of housing was built before 1960, the AAP recommends. The AAP also advises monitoring of children with blood lead concentrations ≥5 µg/dL.

"We now know that there is no safe level of blood lead concentration for children, and the best 'treatment' for lead poisoning is to prevent any exposure before it happens," Jennifer Lowry, M.D., chair of the AAP Council on Environmental Health and an author of the policy statement, said in an academy news release. "Most existing lead standards fail to protect children. They provide only an illusion of safety. Instead, we need to expand the funding and technical guidance for local and state governments to remove lead hazards from children's homes, and we need federal standards that will truly protect children."

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