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ECDOH: Lead is a poison, but lead poisoning is preventable


Mon, Oct 25th 2021 12:45 pm

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week runs Oct. 24-30

The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) is recognizing National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (Oct. 24-30).

“Lead is a poison, full stop,” Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said. “Parents, pediatricians and public health are all partners in identifying children who have been poisoned by lead within their home or other settings with blood lead level screening at ages 1 and 2. Our department’s childhood lead poisoning prevention program works with every family in Erie County with a child who has an elevated blood lead level. Public health nurses notify parents of their child’s results and offer intensive education on the dangers of lead. And, our public health sanitarians assess the properties where these children live or visit frequently, to identify sources of lead exposure and ways to eliminate those sources.”

ECDOH said, “About 3.3 million American households – including 2.1 million low-income households – have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards. Even relatively low levels of lead exposure can impair a child’s cognitive development. 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. Public health actions are needed for these children. There is no safe blood lead level in children.”

Burstein said, “Education is the key, on two fronts. First, pediatricians should screen 1- and 2-year-olds for elevated blood lead levels at annual well child visits, and engage in discussions with parents and caregivers about lead in and around the home, especially if a house or apartment was built in 1978 or before. Second, we want to educate property owners and renters on potential sources of lead exposure, and give them access to resources to make renovations and repairs in leadsafe ways.”

ECDOH 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 protection, 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).

Visit the Erie County Department of Health lead poisoning prevention page at www.erie.gov/lead; or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Lead Poisoning Prevention Week page at https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/national-lead-poisoning-prevention-week.htm.

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