MCMS Physician Fall 2017 - 12
mon t m e d s o c .c om
BY VALERIE A. ARKOOSH, MD, MPH
n August 2017, Governor Wolf called for mandatory lead
testing of all children by the age of two as lead exposure
remains a problem for young children. In fiscal year 2017,
Montgomery County had 313 children with elevated lead
levels > 5 µg/dL and received lead case management services from
the Montgomery County Health Department (MCHD).
Toddlers explore their world by putting things in their mouths.
Therefore, young children who live in older buildings are at an
especially high risk of getting lead poisoning. Children can get lead
poisoning by chewing on pieces of peeling paint or by swallowing
house dust or soil that contains tiny chips of the leaded paint from
Protecting children from exposure to lead, and other environmental and safety hazards, is important
to lifelong good health. Even low levels of lead in the blood have been shown to affect IQ, the ability to
pay attention, and academic achievement. Although lead can be found in many sources, lead exposure
is entirely preventable. The key is stopping children from coming into contact with lead and treating
children who have been poisoned by lead. Parents can take simple steps to make their homes more leadsafe. Lead poisoning is totally preventable by reducing and eliminating the lead source within a child's
The Montgomery County Health Department recommends universal screening for lead poisoning
for all children at ages one and two, regardless of their risk. Lead poisoning is a reportable disease in
the state of Pennsylvania, and physicians are required to report all blood lead results - no matter what
level of blood lead is found - to the Montgomery County Health Department. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently updated its recommendations on children's blood lead
levels. By shifting the focus to primary prevention of lead exposure and other hazards in the home that
can contribute to injury or illness, we can reduce or eliminate dangerous risks in children's environments
BEFORE they occur.
Lead case management services are provided to all Montgomery County residents who have a
child, age 6 years and younger, who has been identified as having an elevated blood lead level. Case
management services involve education and home visits by an Environmental Health Specialist and/
or a Public Health Nurse. They work together to assist parents and homeowners in reducing and/
or eliminating the source of lead exposure to the child. Some common sources of lead poisoning for
* Living in, or regularly visiting, a home built before 1978 which has chipping paint, or has
had recent renovations.
* Living with household members whose job or hobby involves exposure to lead (for example,
making stained glass, fishing lures, pottery or refinishing furniture).
* Living near a battery recycling plant, or other industry likely to release lead.
* Use of imported pottery, imported cosmetics and/or imported spices, candy and herbal
Lead can be found in many sources, but lead exposure is entirely preventable. The key is routinely
testing children for lead, stopping children from coming into contact with lead, and treating children
who have been poisoned by lead.
For more information please contact the Montgomery County Health Department at
I welcome your feedback and topic ideas at Val@montcopa.org.
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MCMS Physician Fall 2017
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