On a routine inspection, the Craven County Health Department's Children's Environmental Health Section discovered lead-based paint hazards at FR Danyus Head Start Center located at 622 West Street in New Bern.
It was found that chipping paint on a porch ceiling contained lead. This can present a health hazard for young children. In addition, lead contaminated dust accumulated to dangerous levels on the concrete floor of the porch. According to Environmental Health Program Specialist, Debra Yarbrough, the risk to the children at the center is minimal. The porch ceiling and roofing components have already been removed. In addition, the porch floor has been sealed and the health department is awaiting results to ensure that the lead-based paint dust hazard has been eliminated.
As a precautionary measure, the parents of the children in the day care are being urged to take their child to their doctor to have their blood levels tested. The Health Department will also offer them the convenient option of having their child tested at a special clinic that will be held at the FR Danyus Head Start Center. Any child whose blood lead level is found to be elevated will be followed up with further environmental investigations that would include their home.
"There can be more than one source of lead in a child's life", says Yarbrough, "and all sources would have to be identified. Lead can accumulate in a child's body through continued exposure, causing more serious health affects as the levels rise".
Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or inhaling lead. Lead based paint is most often found in structures built before 1950, but there are other items that may contain lead like vinyl mini blinds, buttons and jewelry. All children should have lead levels tested at least 12 and 24 months after exposure to the lead. The test is usually done during regular well-child check-ups. Young children face the greatest risk of lead poisoning because their bodies absorb lead easily and they often put things into their mouths. Even low levels of lead can cause permanent damage in children. This may affect their growth and mental abilities, making learning and concentration difficult.
To prevent lead poisoning in young children, parents should: make sure children wash their hands often; avoid dry scraping or sanding to remove old pant; keep the house clean, especially window sills and floors and anything children put in their mouths if it falls on the floor; have children eat foods high in iron and calcium; avoid using traditional medicines that contain lead; and avoid using ceramic dishes or pottery for food unless they are definitely lead free.