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PHD: Free lead level screening

| August 4, 2022 11:43 AM

KELLOGG — Panhandle Health District is set to begin its annual free blood lead level screenings next week.

The screenings will be held at the Shoshone Medical Center’s Outreach building in Pinehurst for residents living within the Bunker Hill Superfund Site. All participating children ages 6 months to 6 years can get tested for free, each receiving a $50 incentive. Lead testing is essential for children, as children 6 years and younger are usually most susceptible to the harmful effects of lead.

Appointments typically take 15-20 minutes per person, and results are available immediately. Should your child’s test result indicate elevated lead levels, PHD will confirm the result with a blood draw and offer a free home visit to identify any available lead sources and suggest ways to reduce or eliminate them. PHD encourages families to bring their children in to be tested and learn more about what they can do to protect their families.

“Families increase their risk of lead exposure when recreating along the shorelines of the South Fork, the Chain Lakes, the lower Coeur d’Alene River, and around historic mine and mill sites,” said Mary Rehnborg, PHD’s Institutional Controls program manager. “The removal of contaminated soil from over 8,000 properties within the Bunker Hill Superfund Site certainly helps, but there is still plenty of property that needs to be remediated, which is why the lead screenings are so important. Protecting our community from exposure to lead is our top priority.”

Blood-lead monitoring in the Silver Valley began in the early 1970s. At that time, 99% of the children tested had blood-lead levels over 40 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) with a high of 164 µg/dL. Experts recommend that medical interventions are necessary when a child is found with a test result of greater than or equal to 3.5 µg/dL.

Today, PHD’s efforts to identify levels above 3.5 micrograms per deciliter will allow families, doctors and communities to act earlier to reduce and eliminate further lead exposure.

Young children and pregnant mothers are at the greatest risk from exposure.

It is easy to reduce exposure by following the safety tips:

• Wash your hands and face with clean water or wipes before eating or drinking.

• Wash toys, bottles and pacifiers if they come into contact with soil, sand or dust.

• When recreating, remove dirt from clothes, toys, pets, cars, boats and camping equipment before you leave. Wash all items when you return home.

• Drink, cook and wash with bottled water or water from home. Do not use river water.

• Eat at a table or on a clean blanket, not bare ground.

• Follow fish consumption advisories, especially for pregnant mothers and children. Find current advisories at: Fishadvisory.dhw.idaho.gov

• Play in grassy areas and avoid loose soil, sand, dust and muddy areas.

Any resident who lives within the Bunker Hill Superfund Site is welcome to get their free lead screening Aug. 8-12 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Aug. 13 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Shoshone Medical Center Outreach Building at 11 Country Club Lane in Pinehurst.

All children must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. If you are unsure if you live within the Bunker Hill Superfund Site, you can call Panhandle Health District’s Kellogg office at 208-783-0707.

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