When it comes to screening and testing Massachusetts military children for lead exposure, there’s no one at the helm to make sure it’s happening, according to a new report from government auditors.
And the auditors are questioning the accuracy of Department of Defense (DoD) report on the number of children who are screened and tested for lead exposure.
In DoD’s 2021 report to Congress, officials reported that 30,412 children were screened for lead exposure; 12,044 children were tested for elevated blood lead levels; and 83 children had elevated blood lead levels for the eight-month period that was covered in the report. But that report was likely an “undercount,” auditors stated, because it didn’t include data from some military treatment facilities, and had incomplete data from others.
For years, military families have questioned whether the military was properly tracking and treating health issues related to military housing, including blood lead levels in their children.
“We all need to draw that line to readiness,” Hruska added. “The service member’s head is not going to be on the mission if they’re worried their children are being exposed to lead-based paint.”
The most common source of lead exposure for children is in buildings built before 1978.
Lead-based paint exposure for children is just one issue lawmakers have tackled in response to numerous problems with the military’s privatized housing, ranging from mold to vermin.
There is no safe blood lead level in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lead exposure can cause serious health problems in children, such as brain damage, slowed development and growth, and learning and behavioral health problems. DoD has developed guidelines which adopt the CDC recommendations for lead screening and testing and DoD provided those guidelines to the military services in September 2021.
Screening and testing is important to detect the problem early and provide treatment. Recommendations for treatment vary based on the amount of lead found in the child’s blood.
Contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour consultation to discuss your concerns regarding your children’s exposure to lead.