Lead Poisoning Prevention Week Oct. 23-29
During Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, County Executive George Latimer and the Westchester County Department of Health remind families to protect children from the harmful effects of lead exposure in their own homes.
Lead is a toxic mineral that is often found in paint in homes built before 1978. It has a sweet taste, which makes lead paint chips and lead dust attractive to young children. It can also be found in some imported costume jewelry and toys, cosmetics, glazed pottery, antiques, ceramic ware, candy and spices.
All children, from six months to six years old, should have a lead assessment at every well visit by their medical provider, and under state law, all children who are one and two years old must receive a blood lead test.
Latimer said: “I encourage all parents and caregivers to ask their child’s healthcare provider to assess their child’s risk and need for lead exposure testing.”
Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler said: “No level of lead exposure is safe in children, and even low levels of lead in blood can negatively affect a child’s intelligence, ability to pay attention and to do well in school. When children are exposed to lead, we work together with families to identify the source of their exposure and to assure it is safely removed or move children to a safer place.”
While the effects of lead poisoning may be permanent, if caught early, parents and guardians can prevent further exposure and reduce the harmful effects of lead. Here’s how:
- Make a plan with your doctor and follow up on time with all recommended blood lead tests.
- Have your home inspected by a licensed lead inspector before you remodel or renovate.
- Find and fix lead in your home.
- Use wet paper towels or a wet mop to clean up lead dust or paint chips.
- Wash your child’s hands and toys often with soap and water, and before eating and sleeping.
- Give your child healthy foods with calcium, iron and vitamin C to help keep lead out of the body.
- Always use cold water for drinking, preparing bottles and cooking.
- Never warm food in glazed pottery. Store food in glass, plastic or stainless steel containers, never in open cans. Be aware that some toys, makeup, pottery, food, spices and sauces, and other products made outside of the USA may contain lead.
Amler said: “While the most common source of lead poisoning is chipped or peeling paint, candy, toys, glazed pottery, cosmetics and home remedies are sometimes the problem. Our staff works with families to identify the lead risks where the child lives and spends time so these risks can be removed, remediated or contained. Working together, we can achieve the best outcomes for Westchester children.”
About 500,000 American children between ages one and five have elevated levels of lead in their blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.