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Attention Contractors
Childhood lead poisoning is a major problem in Iowa because much of the housing contains lead-based paint. About 60% of the homes in Iowa were built before 1960. Many children are poisoned when lead-based paint is disturbed in painting and remodeling projects.

Childhood lead poisoning is a disease that occurs when children have too much lead in their bodies. This can be prevented! Since 1999, Iowa law has required contractors to give property owners and occupants a notification and approved lead hazard information pamphlet before starting renovation, remodeling, or repainting in homes built before 1978.

Since 2002, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has conducted random spot checks of contractors to monitor compliance with the statute. When IDPH has found that contractors who are not complying with the law, IDPH has encouraged voluntary compliance. Because the statute has been in effect for several years and because of public health importance of ensuring that home owners receive this information, IDPH will begin imposing civil penalties for violation of this law after April 1, 2005.

**** This information was provided by Angie Poole, Bureau of Lead Poisoning Prevention 1-800-972-2026, for more information.

Lead Testing and Counseling
Even though lead based paint has been off the market for years and lead has been removed from vehicle fuels children are continuing to become lead burdened and poisoned. Much of the lead children are getting is in the environment in which they are living. Older housing, which was once painted with lead, based paint and afterwards painted over with something else. The paint becomes weathered and chips off or is knocked off by normal living.

Very young children chew on anything they can and will eat anything that is loose. Also they crawl around as soon as they can and become very intimate with their surroundings. If lead dust is present from the abrading of surfaces kids get it on their hands. And we know they put those hands in their mouths. An interesting thing about lead based paint chips, they are slightly sweet and they get eaten. Once inside the lead is digested in much the same way as calcium and deposited in bones in place of calcium. Lead also affects the brain and slows the development of the child. The Council Bluffs Department of Public Health can test children on a limited basis for the presence of lead by sampling the blood.

The things that can be done are to remove the lead from children's environment or remove the child from that environment. The best solution is to remove the lead. Health department staff is available to counsel citizens on the health effects and proper removal of lead bearing materials. 

For more information about lead poisoning prevention, visit the Iowa Department of Public Health website at IDPH Lead Poisoning Prevention.