Columbus, Ga. (WRBL) — Oct. 22 to 28, is National Lead Poison Prevention Week. It’s a time to raise awareness about the dangers of lead and reduce exposure. Lead is a naturally accruing metal that was commonly used in paint until 1978.

According to the public relations coordinator for the West Central Health District Pamela Kirkland, this is still a problem in Columbus and Southeast Georgia because a lot of the homes made before 1978 are currently occupied.  

Children under the age of six are the most susceptible to lead poisoning. Kirkland says that lead poisoning can case children to have server damage to their nervous system, brain function, bones, and organs.

Lead poisoning in children is often caused by lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in older buildings. It can enter their body through inhalation, eating paint chips, and putting objects in their mouth such as car keys or vintage toys.

According to Kirkland the signs and symptoms of lead poisoning aren’t specific to lead poisoning and can commonly be mistaken for other illnesses.

“Your child might be irritable, might have a stomachache, might be cranky, might have a headache, and they might not be able to tell you, Hey, mom, I’ve got a headache or something like that,” Kirkland said.

“So, it may just be irritability, they may be more tired than usual. And those are things that you might just pass off as being some other ailment or just that they’re tired or need a nap,” said Kirkland.

If you suspect your child may have been exposed to lead, contact a pediatrician to get them tested immediately.