Home Environment Issues


Lead Poisoning

Lead is a harmful metal that can affect how your child grows and develops.  It can be found in homes and other items around your home.  Is your child at risk for lead poisoning?

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Children can be exposed to lead by breathing or swallowing lead or lead dust.  In children, lead exposure can cause:

  • Brain and nervous system damage
  • Learning and behavior problems
  • Slowed growth and development
  • Hearing and speech issues

Lead poisoning is 100% preventable.  Lead may be on the loose in your home.  Learn to spot the signs of lead in your home.

More than 300,000 homes in Nebraska still have lead-based paint.  If your home was built before 1978, it may have lead based paint.

Places lead can be found:

  • Peeling paint and dust in homes built before 1978
  • Soil around a home that has lead-based paint
  • Dust or residue on clothing from jobs or hobbies
  • Older water pipes and fixtures
  • Some spices, candies, and foods that are brought in from other countries
  • Some home remedies and cosmetics (such as make-up) from other countries
  • Products like glazed pottery, cookware, toys, and jewelry
  • Recalled items

How to keep your child safe from lead:

  • Visit your doctor and have your child tested for lead
  • Keep children away from chipping and peeling paint
  • Wash hands and toys often
  • Wipe down window sills and mop floors often
  • Get your home tested for lead
  • Remodel safely so you don’t make lead dust
  • Serve healthy foods that have iron, calcium, and vitamin C
  • If you work around lead, do not wear work clothes or shoes into your home.  Wash them separately from other laundry.

Information For Children and Families

If you think your child is at risk for lead poisoning, or have questions about lead, contact us to learn more.


BED BUGS

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are small wingless insects, approximately one-fourth of an inch long that feed on blood, normally during the night. Bed bugs, a problem worldwide, are resurging, causing property loss, expense, and inconvenience. The good news is that bed bugs do not transmit disease. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for signs of an infestation.

Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?

One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:

  • The bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting.
  • Bed bugs in the fold of the mattresses and sheets.
  • Rusty colored blood spots due to blood-filled fecal material they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture.
  • A sweet musty odor.

For more information on bed bugs and how to prevent or treat an infestation, visit the Centers for Disease Control.

To speak with a local environmental health specialist, please call Four Corners Health Department at (402) 362-2621.

Find out everything you need to know about Bed Bugs and how to keep your home bed-bug free from UNL Extension.


MOLD

Where are molds found?

Molds are found in virtually every environment and can be detected, indoors and outdoors, year round. Mold growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions. Outdoors they can be found in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing. Indoors they can be found where humidity levels are high, such as basements or showers. Indoor mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.

Can mold cause health problems?

Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.

What do I do if I find mold in my home?

The key to mold control is moisture control. If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem. It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. Depending on the size of the area affected, you may need to hire a professional remediation service to rid your home of mold. Before attempting to remove mold yourself, seek out advice from a professional. Some mold can be toxic and it is not safe to attempt removal on your own.

 

 

For more information, please visit:

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

To speak with a local public health professional, please contact Four Corners Health Department at (402) 362-2621.