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Although past national public health efforts have reduced lead exposure significantly, lead poisoning remains the most common environmental health problem affecting American children. Currently, lead exposure occurs predominantly through ingestion of lead-contaminated household dust and soil in older housing containing lead-based paint; exposure can be increased with housing deterioration or renovation. Environmental prevention efforts focus on improvement in risk assessment, development of housing-based standards for lead-based paint hazards, and safe and cost-effective lead hazard remediation techniques. Educational efforts address parental awareness of lead exposure pathways, hygiene, and housekeeping measures to prevent ingestion of dust and soil. Blood lead screening is recommended either universally at ages 1 and 2 years or in a targeted manner where local health departments can document a low prevalence of elevated blood lead levels. Nutritional interventions involve provision of regular meals containing adequate amounts of calcium and iron and supplementation for iron deficiency. Lead chelation should complement environmental, nutritional, and educational interventions, when indicated. Collaboration of multiple federal agencies in a new strategy to eliminate childhood lead poisoning should further prevention efforts.

(C) 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.