CANTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — St. Lawrence County Public Health Department is encouraging residents to be aware of the dangers of lead poisoning in honor of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal is to encourage organized, local community events, and to empower families and others to take action in preventing lead poisoning in their community.
According to a press release from the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department, about 3.3 million American households, including 2.1 million low-income households, have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards. Children are specifically at risk since they are more likely to put their hands or other lead-contaminated objects in their mouths, eat paint chips found in homes from peeling or flaking lead-based paint, or play in lead-contaminated soil.
Lead can be found inside and outside the home, and in water that travels through lead pipes or in the soil around the house. However, the most common source of exposure for children is lead-based paint, which was used in many homes that were built before 1978. The chemical element can make its way into the body through residents breathing in lead dust, or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, eating paint chips, soil that contains lead, or other places.
The press release also stated that nearly 75% of homes in St. Lawrence County were built before lead materials were banned. Lead poisoning is a severe risk since even low levels of lead exposure can impair a child’s cognitive development. Children with elevated blood lead levels can experience delayed growth and development, damage to the brain and nervous system, learning and behavior problems, and a host of other health-related problems. There is no safe blood lead level in children.
There are several resources available to help prevent lead pisoning in children and adults including increased education and testing. Local children with lead levels above a 5µg/dL get placed in the St. Lawrence County Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. SLCPH in charge of care coordination, working with families, making sure childen get tested regularly, providing information on reducing the exposure to lead, and follwoing lead levels to make sure they are not increasing. More information on lead poisoning and preventive measures can be found on the SLCPH website.