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Lead Paint Guide for Case Managers

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Effects on your clients

The effects of lead poisoning can take years before they surface, so the connection with lead is easy to miss. If your client lived in downtown Lewiston-Auburn as a young child, and is experiencing these issues, it is possible that the issues may be connected to lead exposure. If your client’s parents also grew up in the area, it is possible that they too were affected as children, which could lead to the assumption that these are genetic traits rather than a result of lead poisoning. This is why it is critical to get children tested and to ensure that continued poisoning is halted before it does more damage.

Effects include:

  • Decreased IQ
  • Attention Difficulties/ADHD
  • Learning Difficulties
  • Impulse Control/Behavior Issues
  • Anemia
  • Slowed Growth
  • Other Medical Issues, including hearing problems and decreased kidney function. Though rare, it can also cause seizures, coma and death.

 

Symptoms

Children who have been lead-poisoned do not often have noticeable symptoms, which is why it is critically important to make sure they are tested for lead. Even if a child does not have any symptoms, lead in his/her body could cause adverse effects for the rest of his/her life.

When symptoms do surface, it often means there is already a very high level of lead in a child’s body. Those symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping (usually the first sign of a high, toxic dose of lead poison)
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Anemia
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Loss of previous developmental skills (in young children)
  • Low appetite and energy
  • Reduced sensations

Very high levels of lead may cause vomiting, staggering walk, muscle weakness, seizures, or coma.

 

Questions to ask your clients

  1. Does the child spend > 10 hours per week in any housing unit built before 1978?
  2. Does the child spend time with an adult whose job exposes him/her to lead? (E.g., construction, painting, metalwork)
  3. Does the child have a sibling, apartment neighbor, or playmate that has been diagnosed with lead poisoning?
  4. Are there painted wooden windows in the child’s home?

 

Legal Referrals

Our services are free to all low-income families. When the parents of your patients learn that their children have elevated blood lead levels, you can tell them to call us for help understanding their legal rights. For more information, visit KIDS LEGAL Can Help.