Allegheny County Health Department reminds parents about the danger of lead exposure for children

ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — With warmer weather comes certain risks for children, and lead exposure is something many parents don’t think about, as it’s often found in places they might not expect.

Peeling, chipped, or cracked paint — you might think it’s harmless, but doctors say it could be a source of lead on the outside of your home, especially on those built before 1978. That’s why Leah Flaherty of the North Side made it a priority to make sure her son, Ray, 2, hasn’t been exposed.

“When you live in a neighborhood like this, when your house was built in 1874, one of the first that docs ask at your first pediatrician appointment is ‘When are you going to be tested for lead?’” Flaherty said.

The Allegheny County Health Department issued a warning for parents on Thursday, reminding them about the dangers of lead contamination as children go outside to play.

“It’s just important for us to be aware of how our kids are doing, and I think that our doctors are good at keeping us safe in that vein,” Flaherty said. “Anything that is going to impact our kids is going to impact us.”

While lead exposure has been significantly reduced over the last few decades, there are still several sources in our everyday lives, according to the health department. Those pieces of paint can fall and create lead dust, a substance that also might be in your yard. Areas of bare soil might be contaminated, so families should plant grass or put down mulch to serve as a barrier between children and the dirt.

So how do you know if your child has been exposed to lead? Allegheny County requires every baby to have a blood test between 9 and 12 months old, followed by a second test around 24 months.

“We feel really good about our docs knowing that about our neighborhood and helping us out to make us feel safer about it,” Flaherty said.

You can find more resources about lead from the Allegheny County Health Department on its website.

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