Lower lead levels deemed harmful for kids


USA Today.com
Wendy Koch
January 18, 2012

Without Rhode Island's mandatory lead test, Liz Colon says her 16-year-old son, Sam, could be severely brain-damaged or dead.

Sam seemed healthy at the time, but Colon says the test showed his toxic lead level was so high, it required his hospitalization and remediation of their 1896 farmhouse.

Now a high school student, he struggles with learning and memory problems, and "his teeth have rotted from the inside out," Colon says. Still, she counts her blessings. "It's very scary," she says, "to think what would have happened without that mandatory screening."

Such screening is facing a test of its own. This month, an advisory scientific panel reported that lead in older homes harms children at lower levels than previously believed. It urged federal officials to protect more kids.

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