Parents of little ones aged six months to three years living in the Trail area may want to take note that lead testing clinics will go ahead next month.
The health committee has confirmed that the annual children’s blood lead testing clinics will take place in September.
All families with children aged six months to 36 months in the Trail area, including Casino, Oasis, Rivervale, Waneta and Warfield are invited.
In Trail, the average blood lead level over the past two years has been under 3 micrograms/deciliter (ug/dL), the lowest levels seen since testing began.
Still, there is no safe blood lead level.
In 2020, the Province of British Columbia lowered the threshold to identify elevated blood lead levels.
The term used is “exposure investigation level (EIL)” and for children’s blood lead it is set at 5 ug/dL. Annual testing allows the program to understand our community better as well as identify any children and families needing additional care to lower blood lead levels.
With the province’s new, lower EIL, Dr. Karin Goodison, Medical Health Officer for the Trail Area Health and Environment Committee (THEC) reviewed historical data.
“Blood lead levels have decreased in most of Canada as we removed lead from fuel, paint, cans and other sources,” Dr. Goodison said.
“In Trail, blood leads have also decreased. Recent trends show that children in Trail have similar blood lead levels to the surrounding areas. Given this, I recommend all children aged six to 36 months living in Trail, Casino, Oasis, Rivervale, Waneta and Warfield participate in the annual blood lead testing clinic,” she said.
“However, parents in any community in Greater Trail may request blood lead testing for their child up to age 60 months.”
Voluntary blood lead clinics in Trail have been taking place since 1991.
The community developed around one of the largest operating lead and zinc smelters in the world.
Living next door to a smelter has created unique challenges in terms of minimizing exposure to lead in house dust and soil. Many improvements to reduce emissions from the smelter and address historical impacts to soils have been made.
The Trail Area Health and Environment Program (THEP) helps prevent children’s exposure to lead via their programs. In addition to improving local air quality, the program focuses on providing tailored education and supports directly to families.
These may include Healthy Home visits focused on easy ways to keep the home dust-free, yard, garden and lead safe renovation support. Healthy Family visits focus on child development, nutrition and prevention of exposure to lead.
Meghan Morris, THEP’s public health nurse advises, “Keep indoor dust down and wash your children’s hands especially before eating and after playing outdoors.”
Morris adds, “This year the clinics will look different as physical distancing health and safety measures will be put in place. Despite COVID-19, we hope all families in the community will participate. The staff are working hard to ensure a safe environment for testing. Blood lead clinics provide ongoing information on the health of our children as well as to identify where we need to provide enhanced support. This information is critical to the success of the THEP.”
Text the public health nurse with additional questions: 250.231.5945.
Clinic dates and times are: Monday, Sept. 14 and Tuesday, Sept. 15; Monday, Sept. 21 and Wednesday, Sept. 23; Monday, Sept. 28, and Tuesday Sept. 29.