Project Description

♦ The Edgar County Lead Prevention program offers lead education, testing, and follow-up case management. We educate families on ways to lower blood lead levels and reduce lead exposure, through proper nutrition, hygiene, and housekeeping. A referral to the Public health environmental experts is completed with every new case. They will inspect the residence to determine the potential source(s) of lead exposure. Edgar County is on the IDPH High-Risk ZIP Code list for Pediatric Blood Lead Poisoning, thus IDPH states that any child residing in Edgar County is required to have Blood Lead Testing completed routinely at age 6 months through 6 years of age. CDC recommends that children have blood lead testing at 1 & 2 years of age, as this is the time that they are crawling on the floor and putting everything in their mouths. Children are also required to have blood lead testing completed prior to first entry into school (usually around 4-6 years of age).

♦ Without early detection, children may go untreated and suffer lifelong impairment due to elevated levels. Often, children will not show signs or symptoms of lead poisoning until it is too late, and most children will never show any symptoms at all. Children in Illinois with a lead level of 5 µg/dL or above will have a new case opened for public health intervention. This allows public health officials to initiate interventions as soon as possible, as adverse side effects have been seen in children with blood lead levels of 5µg/dL and above. This is the same lead reference level used by the CDC. “Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to contribute to learning disabilities, developmental delays, behavioral problems, as well as a number of other negative health effects.” Lead poisoning can also cause lowered IQs, mental retardation, slowed growth, and hearing impairment. Children with high lead levels could slip into a coma and death can occur. There is no safe level of lead.

♦ Elevated lead levels can be detected early by a simple finger stick or blood draw. At ECPHD we offer lead testing by appointment and in conjunction with WIC appointments. Our WIC office also encourages pregnant mothers to be tested. In 2019, Edgar County had a total of 33 childhood lead cases and 1 pregnant adult lead case, which is a huge increase from 12 cases in 2018 and 3 cases in 2017. This is due in part to the lowered action level that was initiated in 2018, from 10 uq/dL to 5 uq/dL and providers testing more frequently. It is important for pregnant women to be tested for lead to detect lead poisoning early and prevent damage and lowered IQ to the fetus.

♦ This important work continues in Edgar County. According to the most recent IDPH Illinois Lead Program Annual Surveillance Report, in 2017  Edgar County had 1285 children under the age of 6. Of these children, only 304 were tested for lead (23.7%) and 19 of those children had a blood lead level of 5 uq/dL and above. It is unknown how many of the other 76.3% of children in Edgar County had elevated lead levels. Why is this test required of Edgar County residents? The 2017 Surveillance report states that approximately 8780 homes exist in Edgar County and an estimated 75% of them are Pre-1978 Housing Units, with potential sources of lead. The ECPHD works closely with physicians and schools in our county to increase awareness and lead testing and to decrease the unnecessary, preventable damage that lead poisoning is causing our children.

2019 Edgar County Lead Program Statistics: 

ECPHD tested 187 children:

– 166 had blood lead levels <5

– 3 were false positives

– 18 had blood lead levels >5 and cases were opened

ECPHD screened 77 pregnant women:

– 58 pregnant women were tested

– 57 had blood lead levels <5

– 1 had a blood lead level >5 and a case opened

Edgar County had a total of 33 open child lead cases (blood lead level >5):

– 21 new child lead cases

– 19 cases were closed

– 7 false positives