ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — As part of Lead Poisoning Prevention Month, and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports from 2004-2009, approximately 197,917 children were screened for lead poisoning. Of these children 1,640 tested positive.
The children lived in 77 counties, with 16 of these Mississippi counties identified as being high-risk areas for lead poisoning. They are Adams, Coahoma, Forrest, Harrison, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Jones, Lauderdale, Leflore, Pike, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Warren, Washington and Yazoo.
Anyone can suffer from lead poisoning, but children are especially at risk since their bodies absorb lead more easily than those of adults. Children with lead poisoning represent 0.64 percent of all children under six who received a blood lead test. Even the unborn are at risk because pregnant mothers can pass lead to their growing babies.
Over time, even small amounts of lead can cause serious and permanent health problems such as brain and nervous system damage, lower IQ and learning disabilities, behavior problems and hearing damage. Eventually, high levels of lead in the body can lead to convulsions, comas and death.