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10 Things Public Health Professionals Should Know About Protecting Children From Lead Poisoning

Community Health Awareness Starts With Your Own Education

It is estimated that half of all Americans, about 170 million, suffer from legacy lead exposure—high levels of lead that may have resulted in cognitive ability loss.1 Additionally, some 1.2 million children showed heightened lead levels from 1999 to 2010, according to a research study in Pediatrics, though many states never tested for the condition. Eleven states, for example, including Florida and Arizona, did not test 80% of the children suffering from poisoning.2

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Despite the high numbers, childhood lead poisoning is preventable. Creating public health programs, such as those that inform parents about the dangers of lead-based paints, gives public health professionals and community health workers the power to make their communities healthier. Here are 10 things everyone in public health should know to protect children from lead poisoning:

  1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers a blood lead reference value of 3.5 micrograms per deciliter as an indicator that a child has elevated levels of lead in their blood. The CDC said that about 500,000 children are at this amount or higher.3
  2. Lead exposure impacts all children, not just those from certain racial and ethnic groups or income levels.4
  3. Lead exposure can come from soil, home renovations, food, drinking water, toys, jewelry, and many other unexpected sources.5
  4. A blood test can reveal if a child has been exposed to lead. Many insurance companies and Medicaid cover this test.6
  5. While elevated levels of lead can hurt all children, those under the age of 6 are at greatest risk for health issues since they grow so quickly. This age group is also more likely to put fingers, playthings, and other materials in their mouths.6
  6. Some child populations face heightened risk for lead exposure, including those in homes built prior to 1978, those living in poverty, and those whose parents are exposed to lead.6
  7. Early intervention is important to mitigate the long-term impacts of lead exposure. Actions include removing the lead source, adopting a high iron and calcium diet, and follow-up testing.6
  8. Lead exposure can harm unborn babies. High levels can put pregnant women at risk of suffering a miscarriage and negatively impact a child’s in utero development.6
  9. Harmful levels of lead can lead to adverse long-term effects that include speech and hearing problems, diminished IQ, and more.7
  10. It’s often difficult for parents to know if a child has been exposed to lead. If there’s suspicion, a blood test can help provide answers.7

By knowing the facts, individuals in public health careers can make a difference fighting this global health problem.

Education Is Key in Preventing Lead Exposure and Other Health Issues

Real-world health issues are a major focus of Walden University’s online Master of Public Health (MPH) program. Public health professionals interested in expanding their professional knowledge can earn an MPH through this CEPH-accredited program—all while working at their current job. Walden University’s online classes are taught by practicing public health experts and can academically prepare students to pursue roles as policymakers, administrators, researchers, and educators—with employment predicted to grow 17% from 2020 to 2030 in the areas of health education and community health, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.8

For those starting out in public health, Walden also offers a BS in Public Health program whose broad curriculum serves as an introduction to the field and emphasizes healthcare targeted toward many populations and settings. The Health Promotion and Wellness concentration in this bachelor’s degree in public health program is designed to academically prepare students for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam. Also available are the General Program and two other concentrations, Healthcare Management and Health Psychology and Behavior. An Accelerate Into Master’s (AIM) track allows students to earn up to 20 master’s-level credits while studying for their undergraduate college degree—saving significant time and money when pursuing an advanced degree.

Whatever public health degree program you choose, Walden University’s online courses let you complete coursework when and where it works for you. Both public health degree programs can help you become a positive force for social change.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online Master of Public Health (MPH) and online bachelor’s in public health degree programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


1Source: www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2118631119
2Source: https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article-abstract/139/5/e20164266/38761/Assessing-Child-Lead-Poisoning-Case-Ascertainment?redirectedFrom=fulltext
3Source: www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/overview.html
4Source: www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/docs/all-children-can-be-exposed-to-lead.html
5Source: www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/prevention/sources.htm
6Source: www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/faqs/lead-faqs.htm
7Source: www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/prevention/health-effects.htm
8Source: www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/health-educators

Note on Accreditation
The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) Board of Councilors acted at its September 6, 2019, meeting to accredit the Master of Public Health (MPH) Program at Walden University for a five-year term, based on an application for accreditation submitted on February 3, 2018. On June 5, 2020, the CEPH Board of Councilors accredited the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) at Walden University, after reviewing an accreditation application submitted on April 21, 2020. CEPH is an independent agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit schools of public health and programs of public health. CEPH accreditation provides assurance that the program has been evaluated and met accepted public health profession standards in practice, research, and service. For a copy of the final self-study document and/or final accreditation report, please contact the dean of the College of Health Sciences and Public Policy ([email protected]).

Note on Certification
The National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE) offers the Certified in Public Health (CPH) credential as a voluntary core credential for public health professionals. As the eligibility criteria may change periodically, students should visit www.nbphe.org/eligibility for more information about certification in public health. It is the individual’s responsibility to understand, evaluate, and comply with all requirements relating to national certification. Walden makes no representations or guarantees that completion of Walden coursework or programs will permit an individual to obtain national certification or practice as a public health professional in the state where they intend to practice.

Note on Certification
The BS in Public Health program with the Health Promotion and Wellness concentration has been designed to reflect the Eight Areas of Responsibility for Health Education Specialists outlined by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) to prepare students to sit for the national Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam. Walden Enrollment Specialists can provide information relating to national certification exams; however, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand, evaluate, and comply with all requirements relating to national certification exams for the state in which he or she intends to practice. Walden makes no representations or guarantee that completion of Walden coursework or programs will permit an individual to obtain national certification. For more information about the CHES exam, students should visit www.nchec.org.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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