The Panhandle Health District will give out $40 stipends to families in Idaho’s Silver Valley that bring in their children for blood-lead tests.
Families living east of Kellogg and west of Pinehurst are eligible for the $40-per-child stipend. The children must be between 6 months and 6 years old. Older children and children who live in other parts of the Silver Valley can also receive free blood-lead screening, but the district won’t pay a stipend for those tests.
The amount of the stipends doubled this year to encourage more families to participate in the program, said Jerry Cobb, a health district program manager.
Last year, 73 children were tested. One child’s blood-lead levels tested at 11.4 micrograms per deciliter, though most test results were under 2 micrograms per deciliter.
Lead is toxic to the nervous system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, blood-lead levels of 10 micrograms per deciliter or greater are associated with developmental and behavior problems in young children, and potential hearing loss. The CDC says no amount of lead exposure is considered safe.
In the Silver Valley, children’s blood-lead levels have dropped dramatically since mining pollution cleanup programs began in the mid-1980s, Cobb said. However, the health district still recommends annual testing for children 6 and under.