Lead poisoning has returned to the news after the discovery of lead in the Flint, Michigan drinking supply and numerous revelations about contaminated pipes in schools across the country. However, lead poisoning never disappeared, especially in homes and facilities constructed before 1950 and in homes and facilities with deteriorating paint that were constructed prior to 1978. The primary risk of lead poisoning comes from paint and paint dust that may be ingested or breathed in. Dust from frequent opening and closing of windows and doors demonstrates just how easily lead can enter the home atmosphere. Other sources of lead can be toys, jewelry, and some imported foods. Who is Most Vulnerable to Lead Poisoning? Children under six years old and pregnant women are at the greatest risk from lead poisoning. It is urgent that children living in older homes and high-risk zip codes receive regular tests for lead poisoning. Ohio has over 400 high risk zip codes, including more than 200 zip code hot spots where more than five percent of children under the age of six are lead poisoned. Further, there is NO safe level of lead in a child\u2019s blood. Early detection of trace amounts can be instrumental in eliminating threats of increased contamination. All children and women planning to have children who live or work in at risk areas should receive regular blood tests. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) will increase blood testing for lead in the coming months. All children who receive Medicaid and live in high-risk areas must receive blood tests at one and two years of age. Children must also be tested if any questions are answered \u201cyes\u201d on the Childhood Lead Risk Questionnaire from the ODH. What Are the Symptoms of Lead Poisoning? Symptoms of lead poisoning may not appear at all, initially. But problems usually persist throughout a person\u2019s life. A blood test is the only known method of determining that lead poisoning has taken place. The most visible problems affecting someone with lead poisoning include: Learning deficiencies Decreased attention span Slow physical growth Hearing loss Hyperactivity Behavioral challenges Stomachaches, persistent headaches, fatigue, and low levels of iron (anemia) are often mistaken for other illnesses, but can also be more immediate physical symptoms of lead poisoning. Pregnant women with lead poisoning have a higher risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and giving birth to an abnormally small fetus. Though blood testing is not recommended for all pregnant women, those who have a high risk of exposure, including those who have other children with lead poisoning, a personal history of lead poisoning, a remodeled or at risk home, or significant time spent living outside the United States should be tested for lead in the blood. How Can You Prevent Lead Contamination? Prevention is the best practice for avoiding lead poisoning. There are several ways to prevent the risk of lead poisoning. First, test your house for lead as soon as possible. Always test for lead before removing paint or remodeling. Avoid dry sanding and\/or heating old lead paint. Always consult your local health department if you have any concerns. Second, maintain a clean house by vacuuming slowly with a HEPA-certified vacuum cleaner, frequently washing floors and windowsills and dusting with a damp cloth. Personal hygiene is also important in preventing lead contamination, especially for children. Wash hands frequently, leave shoes by the door, maintain regular doctor\u2019s appointments and, should a parent work in a potentially lead-affected vocation such as construction, remodeling, or painting, shower outside the home, if possible. What and how you eat also provides an important preventative against lead poisoning. All family members, especially children, should vigorously wash hands before meals at home and at school. Food should always be served in a clean place. Additionally, foods rich in calcium, Vitamin C, and iron prevent lead from entering our bones and bloodstream. What if Lead Poisoning is Found? In the event that your child\u2019s blood test indicates an elevated lead level, the Ohio Department of Health will assign a case manager and medical team. Your home will also be inspected in an attempt to identify the lead source. Should lead exist within your home, a state order will be sent to have a licensed professional remove the lead. The Ohio Department of Health is determined to combat potential lead poisoning throughout the state. You can protect your family by knowing what to look for and how to take preventative steps to avoid lead and lead-based products. Contact the DOH for more information about blood tests and to learn more about how best to prevent lead poisoning in your home and community.