OSWEGO – National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, Oct. 23 – 29, focuses on the ways parents can reduce children’s exposure to lead in their environment and prevent serious side effects.
This year’s theme, “Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future,” underscores the importance of having children tested for lead poisoning, and learning how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 535,000 children living in the United States have blood lead levels high enough to cause significant damage to their health.
“Lead can be found in your child’s environment,” said Diane Oldenburg, senior public health educator for the Oswego County Health Department. “Homes built before 1978 probably contain lead based paint. Make sure paint is not peeling or cracking. When paint peels or cracks, it can make dust that can be swallowed or inhaled. Certain water pipes may contain lead. Lead may be found in some toys and toy jewelry, and it’s important that parents keep up on product recalls.”
Oldenburg said lead can sometimes be found in candy or traditional home remedies imported from other countries. In addition, certain jobs or hobbies involve working with lead, and can cause parents to bring lead into the home.
Children under age six are most at risk for lead poisoning.
Children are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults, and health effects on early childhood development are severe.
Even small amounts of lead can affect a child’s mental and physical growth, causing learning disabilities or disorders in coordination.
Some of these effects can last beyond childhood.
“There is no safe level of lead exposure!” said Oldenburg. “Parents need to talk with their health care provider about having their child tested at ages one and two years.”
The Oswego County Health Department offers these tips for preventing lead poisoning:
– Keep the area where your children play as dust-free and clean as possible.
– Talk with your child’s doctor about simple blood lead testing for your 1- and 2-year-old.
– Report chipped or cracked paint to your landlord if you live in an older home built before 1978.
– Make sure your children do not chew on painted surfaces, such as toys or window sills.
– Renovate safely, common renovation activities can create hazardous lead dust.
– Keep up on products recalled for high levels of lead in them.
Lead poisoning is preventable.
The Oswego County Health Department can provide helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning.
Contact them at 315-349-3547 or visit www.oswegocounty.com/health/preventive.