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Letter: All Utah children should be tested for lead poisoning

Carlos Osorio, Associated Press

The state of Michigan is expected to pay out $600 million to the lead poisoned victims of the Flint water crisis. Almost 30,000 school-age children were exposed to high levels of lead in drinking water for a year and a half. Subsequently, there has been a huge increase in demand for special education and behavioral services for children.

We do not know how many of Utah’s young children are affected by lead poisoning because our state does not require routine testing. In 2018, only 3.6% of Utah preschool age children had a blood lead test reported. Unfortunately, 2% of those tested had an elevated level. Lead damages the developing nervous systems of young children and fetuses leading to lower IQ scores and many behavioral disorders. There is no safe level.

The most common source of lead is from paint dust and chips from homes built before 1978. Other sources include soil, water, mining, ammunition, home remedies, spices, toys and hobbies.

A blood test is the only way to know if a child has been exposed. A simple finger prick at a routine checkup is all it takes. In 2019, because of Utah’s alarming data, Intermountain Healthcare began requiring pediatricians to routinely do testing on all 1 and 2-year olds.

The evidence shows that all children in Utah deserve to be tested for lead exposure prior to preschool. We do not want to be the next Flint, Michigan. Please support legislation requiring testing of all Utah children.

Claudia Fruin

Salt Lake City