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Mississippi Children At High Risk for Lead Poisoning

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 21 Oct 2011 02:24pm | comments
Students look at their hands under black light.

Mississippi kids are at higher risk to suffer lead poisoning than children in other states. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that between 2004-and-2009, nearly 2000 Mississippi kids tested positive for lead poisoning.

"You put water on and then you put soap on and then you scrub it together and wash it off"

"After you touch or pet your kitty or your dog, you always have to wash your hands"

"Because you will have germs on your hands, and you don't want to get sick if you put your hands in your mouth"

That's 5 year old McWillie elementary students Isabella Gates, Lauren Chambers, and Catarina Salisbury explaining how hand washing can prevent lead poisoning.

The Jackson children first pet a stuff dog named dusty, then are shown the dirt on their hands with a black light and taught proper handing washing.

Because of the state's high poverty rates and large stock of old housing, Mississippi kids are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning says Crystal Veazey with the state health department.

"We have a lot of homes built before 1978 in his state. And lead poisoning is caused when paint begins to chip or flake or peal, and they get the lead dust on their hands or toys and that is how they are exposed. And lead poisoning can lead to development mental delay and learning problems that you would not see until the children started school," Veazey said.

Veazey says only a blood test can detect lead poisoning but there are symptoms such as stomach pain, sleep disturbances and headaches.

The McWillie students sing a hand washing song to encourage their classmates to wash their hands.

McWillie teacher Hope Pearson says using songs and stuffed dogs helps kids remember what to do.

"As soon as they see the dog come into the class room they are immediately drawn to him. They are totally captivated in any information that the dog is bringing to them. It just kind of brings them in a little bit more than we could," Pearson said.

The threat of lead poisoning is wide spread, at least 15 counties are considered high risk....including high population counties like Hinds, Harrison and Warren counties.





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