Lead Poisoning Prevention
Lead is a heavy metal that cannot be seen or smelled. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "lead may be used in two aspects of toy manufacturing: paint and plastic." It can appear in toys from other countries and in older and antique toys manufactured in the United States prior to 1978. A large percentage of childhood lead poisoning is caused by ingestion of lead dust from chipping and peeling paint in older homes built prior to 1978, before lead was eliminated from house paint.
Lead should not be inside the body, as it has no beneficial purpose. Lead only causes harm by interfering with essential body processes. Once it is in a child's body, it can lead to learning disabilities, lower IQ and growth and behavioral issues. Behavioral and cognitive effects of lead poisoning may include hyperactivity and difficulty focusing aggression, impulsivity, rigid inflexible problem-solving abilities and problems with social interaction. Other detrimental effects of lead poisoning may include loss of working and functional memory, learning problems in school and difficulty with reading and writing.
Early signs and symptoms of lead poisoning include fatigue, headaches, irritability, metallic taste, uneasy stomach, poor appetite and weight loss. Later effects may include problems with reproduction.
The Niagara County Department of Health Lead Poisoning Prevention Program goals include:
- Assurance that all children ages one and two (and up to age six if at risk) have been tested for lead poisoning.
- Minimizing the risk of childhood lead exposure through educational home visits and environmental referral, if appropriate.
- Providing information on proper medical evaluation and follow up.
- Preventing lead exposure to children before they are harmed.
- Identifying, controlling and/or safely removing lead hazards in the child's environment.
Lead Poisoning is preventable. The key is stopping children from coming into contact with lead. The Niagara County Department of Health can help parents identify risks to their children.
Services provided by the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program include:
- Lead testing of uninsured children who require a test.
- Reviewing lead test results.
- Notifying parent or guardian of elevated test results.
- Visiting parent or guardian at home to provide education on care of children with elevated blood lead levels.
- If appropriate, referring affected children for developmental testing to the Niagara County
Department of Health Early Intervention Program.
- Guidance on home lead detection and remediation.
Parents and caregivers can protect children and reduce childhood lead exposure by:
- Keeping children away from peeling paint and plaster. The lead dust can get on children's toys and hands. The lead is swallowed when children put their hands and toys in their mouths.
- Washing children's hands and toys often to rinse off any lead dust.
For more information about lead poisoning or to schedule an appointment to have your child tested, call the Niagara County Department of Health Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (716) 278-1900.
If you would like to arrange an informational table with lead prevention materials at your Niagara County based health fair or community service event, call the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (716) 278-1900.
The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission issues recalls on toys that could potentially expose children to lead. Learn more at https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls.
For additional resources, you can also visit https://www.epa.gov/lead.