The ARS Hauts-de-France, the Northern prefecture, the CPAM of Hainaut, MGEN and MSA are offering children and young people under 18 years of age, as well as pregnant women living in Escaudoeuvres, the opportunity to participate in a lead poisoning screening until September 30, 2023. Parents and pregnant women will thus receive a screening letter in the coming days. invitation from Health Insurance. This screening, free and on a voluntary basis, is offered as a precaution due to the presence of lead in the soil, generated locally by past industrial activities.
Samples have been taken in recent months by the operator as part of the sale of an industrial site located in Escaudoeuvres in the North. These measurements revealed the presence of lead particles in the soils of a part of the city, near the Campine industrial site on rue des prés (previously Recylex, MetalEurop and Pennaroya), at concentrations which exceed the limits at several points. 300 mg of lead / kg of soil.
Exposure to lead can sometimes lead to poisoning called lead poisoning. This disease, whose symptoms are barely visible, mainly affects children, including during pregnancy. As a precaution, the Regional Health Agency and its partners are organizing a lead poisoning screening campaign for children and young people under the age of 18 and for pregnant women in the municipality.
Screening for lead poisoning, called blood lead, is done by a simple blood test. As a reminder, this screening is 100% covered by Health Insurance for children and pregnant women, at any time and regardless of their place of residence, with a simple medical prescription.
Screening vouchers sent to families
To raise awareness among the residents of Escaudoeuvres and facilitate their access to blood lead levels as part of this campaign, the families concerned will receive in the coming days a screening voucher sent by Health Insurance, MGEN, or MSA allowing them to carry out until September 30 this blood test in the laboratory of their choice, without prior medical prescription. The voucher also allows blood to be taken at home by a nurse.
Pregnant women or parents of children who would not receive this voucher, in particular for example due to a declaration of pregnancy or a move after the campaign was targeted, are encouraged to contact a doctor or gynecologist to consider screening for lead poisoning with them.
Identify and treat possible children suffering from lead poisoning
This campaign to encourage screening for residents of Escaudoeuvres aims to identify possible cases of lead poisoning (i.e. a dosage of more than 50 µg of lead per liter of blood) in order to implement appropriate measures to reduce their exposure to lead.
Two thresholds are in fact applied in screening blood lead levels:
- Between 25 µg and 50 µg / liter of blood: this is the threshold of alertness from which work is carried out with the attending physician to monitor developments over time and put in place recommendations to limit exposure. This is not lead poisoning.
- ≥ 50 µg / liter of blood: this is the threshold from which the person is affected by lead poisoning. For all childhood lead poisoning, the ARS then sets up an environmental health investigation. This consists of an exchange with the family and a visit to the home to ensure that there is no other source of exposure to lead than its presence in the soil. Even in the context of environmental pollution, the source of exposure can in fact be quite different, or even multiple. This investigation therefore aims not to exclude any exposure factor and thus put in place appropriate recommendations to exclude any contact with lead.
Control blood lead levels are then carried out over time in conjunction with the treating physician to verify that the source(s) of exposure are well controlled.
What is lead poisoning?
Exposure to lead through ingestion of dust can cause lead poisoning in children. This disease can affect the child’s development (low height, low weight), their behavior (mood and sleep disorders), and their learning. This is especially true for young children, who are still developing and growing.
Lead poisoning mainly affects children under 7 years old because they swallow more lead dust when playing on the floor or putting dirty hands and objects in their mouths. Children can also be exposed before birth: during pregnancy, lead present in maternal blood crosses the placenta and can therefore have repercussions on the pregnancy and the baby.