MTSU, Discovery Center warn about lead poisoning

MTSU, Discovery Center warn about lead poisoning

MTSU is partnering with the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring in Murfreesboro and children’s museums in Tullahoma and Jackson, Tenn., to educate residents about the dangers and prevention of childhood lead poisoning.

Using Housing and Urban Development grant funding, MTSU has donated a lead-poisoning prevention storyboard that will be housed at the Discovery Museum and used for program activities and as an exhibit display. The display will be featured during free days, the Parent and Tot program and during the National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week Oct. 23-29.

“We are fortunate to have HUD grant funding for this type of activity and fortunate to have found such a gracious partner in the Discovery Center,” said Dr. Kathy Mathis, co-principal investigator of MTSU lead-grant programs.

“They are the ones who will roll up their sleeves and get the information out there. Alone, we would not be able to reach the number of parents and children that this partnership allows.”

More than 6,000 museum visitors will enjoy the interactive exhibit, learning about lead hazards in homes, the importance of testing for lead poisoning and easy lead poisoning prevention tips, MTSU officials said. Children even can visit “Dusty the Dog” to see how easy it is pick up lead dust.

“This storyboard offers very valuable information in a way that really engages parents and children,” said Dr. Carol Boraiko, also a program co-principal investigator. “Kids will love the ‘Dusty the Dog’ mascot and being able to see the imitation ‘lead dust’ glow under the black light. Parents will love the wealth of information and simple prevention tips given by the interactive display.”

Children are most often exposed to lead through peeling and chipping paint or lead dust in homes built before 1978. According to the 2006-08 American Community Survey, more than 25,000 homes in Rutherford County were built before 1978.

A lead-poisoned child can seem healthy, and a simple blood test is the only way to know for sure. Effects of childhood lead poisoning can include lowered IQ points, developmental and growth delays, learning disabilities, violent and aggressive behavior, and coma or even death, researchers have determined.

You can join the conversation about lead-poisoning prevention on Facebook at

The Discovery Center, located at 502 S.E. Broad St. in Murfreesboro, is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. It is closed major holidays. For more information, call 615-890-2300.

— Leigh Woodcock (