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Lead poisoning toll revised to 1 in 38 young kids

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Springfield, Mass. (WGGB/AP) – Health officials say more than half a million young children are now believed to have lead poisoning in the United States.

The figure is roughly twice the previous high estimate. But that’s because the government last year lowered the threshold for lead poisoning, so now more children are considered at risk.

Too much lead can be harmful to developing brains and can mean a lower IQ. The new number released Thursday translates to about 1 in 38 young children.

“It can actually be associated with seizures and coma and even death,” said Baystate Medical Center Pediatrician Dr. Matthew Sadof.

After lowering the standard, the government went back and looked at blood tests from children under 6 to determine how many have lead poisoning under the new definition.

Lead poisoning has been a waning concern, as leaded gasoline, paint and other sources have diminished.

“The primary source is dust and the primary source of dust is lead based paint. It’s rubbed, friction, windows moving up and down, doors opening. So it’s normal wear and tear,” said Scott Balfour, inspector and owner of Atwater Associates.

Balfour recommends a homeowner with kids under six have a inspection done and also anyone renovating their home if it was build before 1978.

Massachusetts law requires that any area with a reading over 1.0 be stripped or covered up to a height of about five feet or anywhere kids could get at.

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