Learn how to reduce children’s exposure to lead
NEW CITY, NY, – During Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert warn residents that lead continues to be a major cause of poisoning among children and can seriously harm a child’s health. Children under age 6 are most at risk for lead poisoning caused by swallowing or breathing in lead because they tend to put their fingers and toys in their mouths and play in places where lead dust and paint chips can be found.
About 3.3 million American households, including 2.1 million low-income families, have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards. Every year, National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) highlights the many ways parents can reduce children’s exposure to lead in their environment, prevent its serious health effects, and learn about the importance of testing children for lead. NLPPW raises local awareness about the danger of lead exposure and poisoning.
The Health Department is conducting a “Make your Cleaning Count, Wash Lead Out” awareness campaign during Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. As part of Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, our community’s youngest residents are helping with an art project that emphasizes and shows how to wash LEAD out of homes: using a wet mop or wipe, clean floors, play areas, windowsills, and baseboards once a week. Keep children from playing outside in the dirt, keep indoor and outdoor toys separate, wash children’s faces, hands, toys, and pacifiers regularly. Posters with children’s lead poisoning prevention artwork will be displayed on our Rockland County Facebook and Twitter pages and our website at http://bit.ly/LeadPoisoningPrevention.
Lead can be found inside and outside the home, including in the water that travels through lead pipes or in the soil around the house. The most common source of exposure is from lead-based paint. Homes built before 1978 may have lead-painted windowsills, window frames, and walls. When old paint is sanded, scraped, brushed, burned, or cracks and peels due to wear and tear, it makes lead dust. Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by breathing in lead dust (especially during activities such as renovations, repairs, or painting) or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, windowsills, eating paint chips, soil that contains lead, or other places. Children can also become exposed to lead dust from adults’ jobs or hobbies and from some metal toys or toys painted with lead-based paint. Avoid some products imported from the Middle East, Latin America, Southeast Asia, China, and India.
“There is no safe blood lead level in children. Children with blood lead levels can experience delayed growth and development, damage to the brain and nervous system, learning and behavior problems, and a host of other health-related problems. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect children’s growth and development and make it hard for children to learn. Lead can also be a problem for adults, as pregnant women can pass lead exposure to their babies. The good news is that childhood lead poisoning is 100% preventable,” said Dr. Ruppert.
Parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead in many ways. Here are some simple things you can do to get ahead of lead:
- Get your child tested. New York State requires health care providers to test all children for lead with a simple blood lead test at ages one and two. At every well-child visit up to age six, health care providers must ask parents about any contact their child might have had with lead. If there’s been a chance of contact, providers are required to test for lead again.
- Renovate your home in a lead-safe way. Contact your local town or village before renovating or remodeling to find out if a building permit is required. Renovate right with lead-safe work practices. For information about remodeling or renovating in a lead-safe way, or to find a contractor or inspector, visit the EPA website at www.epa.gov/lead. Before you buy an older home, consider a lead inspection. To learn about your rights before you buy or lease, visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website https://www.epa.gov/lead/real-estate-disclosures-about-potential-lead-hazards.
- Feed your family foods that can help prevent lead poisoning. Food high in iron, calcium, and vitamin C make it difficult for lead to be absorbed in the body. For more information on specific foods and tips, visit https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/6672.pdf.
- Get the facts. The Health Department can provide you with helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning, call (845) 364-2558 or visit http://bit.ly/LeadPoisoningPrevention.
For more information on how to reduce children’s exposure to lead in their environment and prevent its serious health effects, visit the CDC’s NLPPW website https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/national-lead-poisoning-prevention-week.htm.