Lead poisoning is one of the greatest health risks that children face. Ingestion of even very small amounts of lead can cause a variety of severe and irreversible health problems, including decreased muscle and bone growth, speech and language problems, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and decreased intelligence. Children under the age of 7 are especially at risk because their brains are still developing.
Lead was used in both interior and exterior paint until 1978. 70% of housing in Saint Joseph County was built before 1978, which puts residents at high risk for lead-based paint hazards. Children can be exposed to lead-based paint that is chipping and cracking, or lead-based paint dust. Areas of concern around the home that children may chew or that get a lot of wear and tear include: widows, window sills, doors, door frames, stairs, railings, banisters and porches.