(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) If you live in an older home, you could be living with an unknown health hazard, according to the St. Joseph Health Department.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states homes built before 1978 are likely to have lead-based paint and continued exposure to lead can cause severe damage to your brain and nervous system.
The St. Joseph Health Department recently received a $55,000 grant to educate the community on the dangers of lead in older homes and buildings.
Lead Health Educator Carol Walter says that a majority of the homes in downtown are over 40 years old and might contain lead based paint.
“Because we are an older city, with older buildings and lead was not taken out of paint until 1978. So construction before 1978, which is quite a bit of Saint Joseph, can still contain lead,” Walter said.
According to Walter, children are especially susceptible to lead poisoning. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that children ages under the age of six are more sensitive to the damaging and irreversible effects lead poisoning.
"The number one thing I hear from people is 'I thought lead was a thing of the past' or 'lead poisoning was a thing of the past'. It is very much alive and active, and it hurts our children. That is why we need to be aware and have the very best (for) the children of St. Joseph," Walter said.
The Health Department recommends children be screened for lead during their first-year wellness check, again at age 2 and any other time a child becomes exposed to lead.