Free lead screenings for kids 6 and under in St. Joseph County

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY (WNDU) --- The St. Joseph County Health Department offers free lead screenings for children 6-years-old and younger, an age range that is at-risk for lead poisoning.

On Thursday, the health department teamed with South Bend Schools to host a screening at the South Bend Medical Foundation. A simple finger prick is all it takes for families to learn ultimately if their children have high levels of lead in their blood.

"The recommendation is that if your child has never been tested, they ought to be at least tested once by the time they reach age six," said Dr. Mark Fox, M.D., the deputy health officer at the St. Joseph County Health Department.

According to the CDC, children can come in contact with lead through paint chips or lead paint particles. However, 30 percent of poisonings come from other sources such as pottery; drinking water from lead pipes; and imported goods, including candy, toys, toy jewelry, and makeup.

The CDC says lead poisoning severely can affect a child's health, such as causing a lower IQ in addition to learning and behavioral problems.

Free lead screenings for kids 6 and under are available at the St. Joseph County Health Department located inside the County-City Building. Parents also can contact the health department to receive a certificate allowing them to have the screening done at any South Bend Medical Foundation location.