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Latino families need to be vigilant against lead poisoning

LatinaLista — Who worries about lead poisoning these days? Evidently not many people.
Otherwise, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) wouldn’t have joined forces with the Ad Council and the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning on a new national multimedia ad campaign to raise awareness of the issue.
The Lead Free Kids campaign, and its sister site in Spanish, focus on raising awareness about lead poisoning.
People most likely to be exposed to lead poisoning are those living in homes built before 1978. These homes were painted with paint that contained lead. It’s bad news for children, 6 and younger, and pregnant women.
According to Ron Sims, HUD Deputy Secretary, there are approximately 38 million U.S. homes that still contain lead-based paint.

Almost a million children are affected by elevated blood lead levels in the U.S. Childhood lead poisoning remains a major environmental health problem in the United States.

Children who have high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from:
* Damage to the brain and nervous system
* Behavior and learning problems, such as hyperactivity
* Slowed growth
* Hearing problems
* Headaches
* In rare cases of acute lead poisoning from ingestion of lead, children can suffer seizures, coma and even death.

The most common way for children and pregnant women to get exposed to lead is from:
Paint chips and dust from deteriorating paint.
Soil contaminated when exterior lead-based paint from houses or buildings flaked or peeled and got into the soil.
Older playground equipment painted with lead-based paint.
Artificial turf and playground surfaces made from shredded rubber.
Home plumbing with lead or lead solder and water utilities that may have lead service lines.
Imported toys.

And there is an additional way, which has a higher probability of affecting more Latino children and pregnant women — lead found in folk remedies.

Lead has been found in powders and tablets given for arthritis, infertility, upset stomach, menstrual cramps, colic and other illnesses.
Greta and Azarcon (also known as alarcon, coral, luiga, maria luisa, or rueda) are Hispanic traditional remedies taken for an upset stomach (empacho), constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and used on teething babies. Greta and Azarcon are both fine orange powders that have a lead content as high as 90%.
Ghasard, an Indian folk remedy, has also been found to contain lead. It is a brown powder used as a tonic.
Ba-baw-san is a Chinese herbal remedy that contains lead. It is used to treat colic pain or to pacify young children.

The Lead Free Kids campaign website not only explains what lead poisoning is, where it can be found and its symptoms but how to prevent it and important resources to turn to for further information on where to find help if lead is found in the home.

Lead is poisonous because it interferes with some of the body’s basic functions. A human body cannot tell the difference between lead and calcium, which is a mineral that strengthens bones. Like calcium, lead remains in the bloodstream for a few weeks. Then it is absorbed into the bones, where it can collect for a lifetime.


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