ITHACA, N.Y. — Do you own or rent a home built before 1978? Does it have peeling or chipping paint? This Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is the time to Get Your Home Tested, Get Your Child Tested, and Get the Facts about lead in your environment. There are many sources of lead, but most often, children under six years old get lead poisoning from breathing in or swallowing dust from old lead paint that gets on floors and windowsills, hands and toys. Despite the continued presence of lead in the environment, lead poisoning is preventable.
The theme of Lead Poisoning Prevention Week this year is Lead Free Kids for a Healthy Future. It underscores the importance of testing your home, testing your children, and learning how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects. These may include a lower IQ, hearing loss, kidney disease, and growth problems.
Children can also be exposed to lead from additional sources including contaminated drinking water, take-home exposures from a workplace and lead in soil. Some traditional medicines and ointments used by East Indian, Indian, Middle Eastern, West Asian and Hispanic cultures may also contain lead. Spices used for cooking have also been recalled due to high levels of lead. When there is healthy food in the body, it is more difficult for lead to be absorbed. Make sure your diet is rich in important nutrients such as calcium, iron and vitamin C.
Gail Birnbaum, Community Health Nurse at the Tompkins County Health Department notes children with reported elevated blood levels are monitored. “We help parents identify sources of lead that may have been the cause of the lead poisoning and we provide education on prevention and testing.” She also reports that NYS law and regulations require health care providers to test all children’s blood lead levels at ages one and two years.
To raise awareness about lead poisoning prevention, Cornell students will work with the Tompkins County Health Department during Into the Streets on October 27, 2018. The students will distribute door hangers with information about lead prevention to homes in Ithaca’s Fall Creek Neighborhood.
For more information on lead poisoning prevention, go to the Tompkins County Health Department website: www.TompkinsCountyNY.gov/health/lead/index. For a Healthy Neighborhoods Program visit to assess your home for lead paint hazards, call 607-274-6688.