Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) is recognizing National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week from Oct. 25-31.
“We take every opportunity we can to raise awareness about the danger of lead exposure and poisoning, and to educate parents on how to reduce exposure to lead in their environment and prevent its serious health effects,” Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said. “As parents take their children for annual well child visits, they should talk to their pediatrician about recommended lead screenings and any concerns about lead in or around the home, and other places where children spend time, like baby sitters and other family members’ homes.”
During 2020, Erie County children have received about 3,000 fewer lead tests as of the end of September compared to the same time frame in 2019.
“There is no safe level of lead in human blood,” Burstein explained. “A lead test involves a small blood sample taken from a finger prick. When lead is detected, our public health nurses connect with the child’s family to investigate potential sources of lead poisoning and provide education and resources on how to remove lead sources from the child’s surroundings.”
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
About 3.6 million American households have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards. According to the CDC, about 500,000 American children between ages of 1 and 5 years have blood lead levels greater than or equal the level at which CDC recommends public health actions.
An ECDOH press release said, “Lead poisoning and its harmful effects are largely preventable with increased testing and education. 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. However, the most common source of exposure is from lead-based paint, which was used in many homes built before 1978. Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by breathing in the lead dust (especially during activities such as renovations, repairs or painting) or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, and other places, or eating paint chips or soil that contain lead.
“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. Children are not exposed equally to lead, nor suffer its consequences in the same way. These disparities unduly burden families experiencing poverty; families in older, unstable or inadequate housing; and, children of some racial and ethnic groups, such as non-Hispanic African-Americans.
“Pregnant women, refugees and children who were adopted from outside the U.S. are also at risk for higher lead exposure. Also, workers in certain industries, and their families, may be exposed to lead from the workplace. Pregnant women should consider asking about lead testing during prenatal care visits. It is particularly important for workers using lead to prevent take-home exposure to young children and pregnant women.”
For more information on how to protect one’s family, contact LEADSAFE Erie County at 716-961-6800 or email [email protected]. Or, visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website at www.epa.gov or call 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).
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