Blood Lead Surveillance and Exposure Sources Among Alaska Children


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Abstract

Context:Nationally, the child lead poisoning prevention strategy focuses on children in low-income communities living in old housing with lead paint. In Alaska, however, only about 3% of existing homes were built before 1950 and 38% were built during 1950-1979. As such, lead paint in old housing is a less frequent source of exposure for Alaska children with elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs).Program:The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services collects and maintains data for all blood lead level (BLL) tests in the state and is responsible for following up on EBLLs.Implementation:The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services conducts telephone interviews with parents of children with an EBLL to identify and remove possible sources of lead from the child's environment and prevent subsequent exposure.Evaluation:This review summarizes the surveillance data on BLLs in Alaska children for 2011-2015 and describes the most commonly identified possible sources of childhood lead exposure statewide since 2011.Discussion:While the proportion of children in Alaska who received a BLL test during these years is low compared with other states and EBLL prevalence is low among children tested, several possible sources of exposure were identified among children with EBLLs, including nonpaint sources. This report summarizes the challenges of combatting childhood lead exposure in a rural state where housing is a less common exposure source and describes ongoing work to prevent childhood lead exposure in Alaska.

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