The Unleaded Post Newsletter

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) established the Kansas Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (KCLPPP) to respond to concerns about lead and its effect on the health of Kansans, most notably our children.  Lead is common in our environment and many individuals, especially children, show no outward signs of lead poisoning.  The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states lead poisoning is one of today’s major preventable environmental health problems.  Blood lead levels (BLLs) as low as 10 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dL) are associated with harmful effects on children’s learning and behavior.  BLLs as high as 70 ug/dL can cause seizures, coma, and death.

The mission of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is to establish an infrastructure of trained personnel to screen, identify and recommend proper medical and environmental management of lead-poisoned children.  The most common cause of childhood lead poisoning today is the deterioration or disruption of a lead paint surface of a home.

Kansas Statues Annotated (KSA) 65-1,200 authorizes the Kansas Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.  Key provisions of the law give the Secretary, Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), the authority to establish and administer the following activities:

  • Develop and maintain an elevated blood level database and medical surveillance program.
  • Track incident of lead poisoning across the state.
  • Administer a certification, licensure, accreditation and enforcement program for individuals and firms involved in lead-based paint activities and abatement projects.
  • Administer a Pre-Renovation Education Program to educate the public and remodeling industry on lead hazards.
  • Promote a public awareness campaign to increase knowledge about childhood lead poisoning prevention strategies.
  • Increase professional education opportunities regarding childhood lead poisoning prevention strategies.
  • Provide equipment support and training to local health departments to conduct blood lead screening activities, environmental assessments and follow-up.

The KCLPPP is funded by cooperative agreements from US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and fees from the certification and licensure of individuals and firms.

Currently about 240,000 Kansas children are in the at-risk age group of six months to 72 months.  CDC estimates about 4.4 percent of children in the at-risk age group have BLLs above 10 ug/dL.  That equates to approximately 10,600 Kansas children.  Non random testing of children by health providers found 1,202 children with elevated blood lead levels in 1995; 1,171 children in 1996; 799 children in 1997; 872 children in 1998, and 770 children in 1999.

Since the virtual elimination of lead from gasoline, lead-based paint has become the single most important source of lead exposure for children.  The largest source of lead availability to most children is in their own home.  The older the house, the more likely it is to contain lead and have a higher concentration of lead in the paint; housing built before 1950 poses the greatest hazard to children, and 33 percent of all Kansas housing falls into that category.  Over 80% of all housing units in Kansas were built prior to 1978 and may contain some lead based paint.