UTAH (ABC4) – As summer approaches in the Beehive State so do desert winds and dry conditions which have been known to stir up lead dust. What often goes unnoticed is that the risk for lead poising is heightened severely during the summer months, especially among young children.

A pediatrician with Cleveland Clinic Children’s, Roopa Thakur, weighed in on the importance of staying mindful of lead exposure in and around children’s play areas.

“Making sure that the home is clean, as best as we can, in the areas where kids are playing on the floor and trying to reduce other sources of lead exposure in the home. So, trying to keep our windows closed, repainting over any chipping paint; those types of things can help,” she explained.

Dr. Thakur noted that homes built before 1978 could be a risk as they may have been painted with a material containing lead. Additionally, she said children could come in contact with lead if soil that is around a home or indoor flooring contains lead chips or dust from aging homes.

According to Dr. Thakur, children under the age of six are at the greatest risk of contracting lead poisoning as they have a tendency to put things in their mouths. She stressed the importance of ensuring this group’s safety against lead poisoning, as critical brain development takes place at this age.

Lead poisoning has numerous life-long consequences including a decreased IQ, neurological delays, gastrointestinal problems, and bone growth issues. Symptoms are subtle and often go unnoticed, making lead poisoning screenings that much more crucial.

“It may be just a change in behavior, it may be very vague complaints of abdominal pain, or headaches, or fatigue, or something like that. And, so, often, parents aren’t coming in with specific concerns about lead poisoning, and this is why we do universal screening,” said Dr. Thakur.

To protect your child against lead poisoning, Dr. Thakur recommends keeping children away from areas that are being remodeled, and hiring lead-safe certified contractors who will clean up their worksite properly.