A recent article (October 2016) appeared in the Journal of Pediatrics about very high lead levels in 145 children in New York City. I mean very high–greater than 45 ug/dL. If you know anything about blood lead levels you’ll realize that those levels are huge. Scientists now know that even levels around 5-10 ug/dL cause problems in brains of children, and some scientists say that there are no safe lead levels. ADHD-type symptoms, developmental delays, and autism can result from high lead levels.
So how did these children in this study get such high levels? Many lived in very old buildings. Some put lead paint chips in their mouth or even ate them (they taste sweet). Other children ate soil or sand. 82% of the children in this study had homes with lead paint hazards. 37 % homes had engaged in home repairs. Some children had household members engaged in occupations or hobbies at risk for lead exposures. Imported spices, cosmetics and medicines and other products such as pottery and jewelry have been linked to lead-poisoning in children.
Does your child engage in any of those activities or is exposed to products that might contain lead? If yes, see your doctor for a blood lead level. This could save your child’s life!
The headline in our paper today is “BEYOND FLINT High Lead Levels Found in 2000 Water Systems across the USA” published by USA Today. So, unfortunately, Flint is not the only place where there is high lead in the water.
The problem is the source such as a river or lake may be free of lead but a little acidic, the water may be lead-free when it leaves the water treatment plant, but may pick up lead as the water passes through old, corroded lead pipes as it passes through neighborhood pipes and pipes leading into your home!
The USA article today pointed out in its article today, “The way tap water becomes contaminated–at or even inside individual homes –poses a vexing problem for regulators, utilities and consumers. A home with a lead service line and older internal plumbing may have high levels of lead in its tap water. A nearby, newly constructed home may have no lead. The only way to know if your house is at risk is to find out about its water line and plumbing.”
You can also ask your local Health Department to test your water for lead levels. This should be a free test. If it shows lead in your water, ask to have your child’s blood lead level be measured either by the Health Department or your own doctor.
While your child who has ADHD probably does not drink water from contaminated sources it’s important to check that out. Lead poisoning is not a common “cause” of ADHD but it is extremely important for those children who have high lead levels.
Here are some websites you may find helpful:
USA Today’s story: LEAD.USATODAY.COM where you can find out all kinds of information about lead and even which counties in your state have reported high lead levels. Ask your school to measure lead levels in the drinking water if they haven’t already.
For information about water filters go to Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/water-filters/buying-guide.htm .
You’ll find more information about lead and other toxic metals and much more in my new book, Solving the Puzzle of Your ADD/ADHD Child: Natural Solutions for Hard-to-Raise Children.