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Lead Poisoning Prevention

Author: Jacquelyn Langdon/Tuesday, October 24, 2017/Categories: Health

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The Niagara County Department of Health is raising awareness about the threat lead poisoning can have, especially in children under 6 years of age due to their hand-to-mouth habits and young developing brains. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood lead poisoning is one of the most preventable environmental diseases among young children, yet approximately half a million U.S. children have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter. “Actions such as getting your child’s blood tested and removing lead hazards from the home can prevent permanent damage that would last a lifetime” stated Daniel Stapleton, Public Health Director. 

Recent research suggests that even lower blood lead levels are linked with effects including: diminished academic ability, elevated rates of trouble concentrating, attention-deficit, and problem conduct behaviors.  These effects might not show until years after the early childhood lead poisoning.  In 2012, the CDC concluded “NO safe blood lead level in children has been identified”.  The Niagara County Department of Health is urging parents and caregivers to take the following simple actions to protect young children from the effects of lead exposure. 

• Lead was not banned in residential paint until 1978.  Check your older home for paint issues like cracked, chipping, and peeling paint, especially on friction areas of doors and windows.  Don’t renovate an older home until you learn how to do it safely.  Clean up potentially lead contaminated dust in your older home using a moist method of damp mopping/damp dusting. If you ever find paint chips in your window sills, don’t vacuum them up.  Instead, dispose of paint chips by wiping them up with a damp paper towel.

• Establish routine hand-washing with soap, water , and the friction of rubbing hands together each time after your child has been playing outside, especially before eating, and before sleeping.  Hand sanitizer will do nothing to remove invisible lead dust. 

• If a child is anemic they will absorb more of the lead dust that they are exposed to.  A healthy low-fat diet that includes  lots of Vitamin C (found in citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes and peppers) and Iron (found in meats, beans, leafy greens, nuts, dried fruits, and iron-fortified cereals) will help to protect them. 

• Get your children lead tested at age one and again at two years old, which is mandated by the New York State Department of Health.  If there are concerns of further lead exposure, children should continue to be lead tested until they turn six years old.

For questions or information on other possible sources of lead exposure, please call Niagara County Department of Health Lead Nursing Division Poisoning Prevention Program at   (716) 278-1900.

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