To increase awareness of childhood lead poisoning prevention, the Norwalk Health Department and several other health agencies recognize National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW), October 21–27. NLPPW’s theme is “Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future.” Organizations such as the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH), US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and US Department of Housing and Urban Development are using this week to remind people to test their homes, have their children tested, and learn how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects.
“Lead poisoning is preventable,” explained Tim Callahan, Norwalk Director of Health. “I encourage parents to make sure their children under the age of 6 are screened for lead by their pediatrician. Parents should become familiar with lead hazards so that they are able to protect their children. Often, eliminating lead hazards in the home is easily accomplished.”
Nearly half a million children living in the United States have high blood lead levels that could cause significant damage to their health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the EPA, children with high levels of lead in their bloodstream can experience many health effects, including damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems, hearing problems, and headaches. Major sources of lead exposure in US children include lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in deteriorating buildings. Children can also be exposed to lead from additional sources including contaminated drinking water, take-home exposures from a workplace, and lead in soil.
Trained and certified staff from the Norwalk Health Department conduct lead inspections and investigations in Norwalk. When the Health Department receives a report of a child with lead levels of 10 micrograms per deciliter or more, staff provide educational materials to the family. A report of a child with elevated blood lead levels of 15 micrograms or more per deciliter triggers an epidemiologic investigation that includes a home visit, and certified lead inspectors conduct a comprehensive lead investigation that includes water, soil, and dust. Also, lead inspections are provided in the homes of children younger than 6 years old as part of routine housing code inspections or as a result of a complaint investigation. Educational materials are also available upon request.
Parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead in many ways.
1. Get your Home Tested. Before you buy an older home, ask for a lead inspection.
2. Get your Child Tested. Even if your young children seem healthy, ask your doctor to test them for lead. 3. Get the Facts! For more helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning, visit www.leadfreekids.org or www.ct.gov/dph/lead or call the Environmental Protection Agency’s lead hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD.