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STAYWELL

Getting the Lead Out

October 19, 1998|BARBARA J. CHUCK

Lead poisoning is a hazard for all, but more so for children. Lead, a tasteless, odorless mineral, is especially toxic during times of rapid growth, such as pregnancy and childhood.

The mineral is found in many places, including surfaces with old paint (lead was outlawed in paint in 1978), dust from some vinyl miniblinds, some dishes and drinking water from plumbing that used lead solder to connect pipes. Lead poisoning can damage the brain, red blood cells, and the nervous and digestive systems.

You can reduce the risks by:

* Washing children's hands before they eat and sleep.

* Making sure your children eat a healthy diet rich in calcium and iron, minerals which can decrease the absorption of lead.

* Keeping house surfaces clean, such as floors, window wells, frames, sills and play areas.

It's not necessary to remove lead-based paint if you paint over it or put up wallpaper. (Paint with lead is dangerous if it crumbles into chips or dust and is ingested.) Or ask your local health or safety department for names of people or companies that can safely remove the paint.

For questions, ask your doctor or call:

The Environmental Protection Agency's Safe Drinking Water Hotline: (800) 426-4791.

The National Lead Information Clearinghouse: (800) 424-5323

L.A. County's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program: (800) LA4-LEAD

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Source: Based on information provided by StayWell Co.

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StayWell is a weekly feature designed to help you better manage your health.

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