As a nurse treating lead poisoning patients, Shirley DiFrancesco has witnessed just about every negative side effect.
"Huge temper tantrums, I've seen them. I've seen them on the floor uncontrollably kicking and screaming, and when that lead gets out of their system they are no longer quite as difficult," DiFrancesco says.
But thanks to a new $4 million federal grant targeting lead poisoning, DiFransesco and other nurses hope to see fewer lead cases and more healthy children.
"It's wonderful when we can reduce a hazard for a child in our community," DiFrancesco says.
Each year, nearly 20 percent of Winnebago County children that are tested for lead poisoning come up positive, as contact with lead paint and dust can lead to serious problems.
"Even if it’s on the hands from cranking around on the floor, or playing with their toys, it can get on their hands, and then into their mouth, so if you put plastic on or keep your kids away from the window that isn’t good enough," Cindy Brusky explains.
The extra funds for stateline counties means lead removal workers will now be more proactive than ever, attending to lead in nearly 30 more houses a year.
"A lot of the historical programs only deal with housing after the child has been lead poisoned. These programs are designed to deal with programs before hand," says Nicholas Peneff.
DiFrancesco is hopeful the grant in the present will make way for healthier, happier area children in the future.
"These are our children that are going to take care of me when I'm older. I want these children to be educated, alert. I don't want them to have difficulty learning in school," DiFrancesco adds.
The northern Illinois region was one of just 37 in the entire country to receive such lead prevention funds. If you are interested in leaning more about lead poisoning risks, contact your county's health department.
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Getting the Lead Out
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Source: http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fdalead.html (U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web Site)