Pictured, Certified Lead Risk Assessor Brent Sheldon tests a local home for lead-based paint.
MAYVILLE, N.Y.:--Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services is pleased to recognize National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week from October 20-26, 2019. This week is designed to raise local awareness about the danger of lead exposure and poisoning, educate parents about the importance of testing children for lead, and encourage property owners to remove lead hazards from rental properties.
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The goal is to empower families and other stakeholders to take action to prevent lead poisoning.
“Chautauqua County has some of the oldest housing stock in the entire United States, and therefore residents, particularly young children, have a high risk of lead exposure,” said Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County Director of Health and Human Services. “We are asking families to be sure their children are tested for lead, and asking landlords to start getting units inspected and lead hazards controlled before a family with children moves in.”
According to the CDC, about 500,000 American children between the ages of one and five have blood lead levels greater than or equal to the level of blood reference value, the level at which CDC recommends public health actions. Locally, as many as 80 children per year in Chautauqua County are considered to be lead poisoned. Up to one-third of children are not being tested as recommended, so that figure is likely even higher.
Lead can be found inside and outside the home, including in the water that travels through lead pipes or in the soil around the house. However, the most common source of exposure is from lead-based paint, which was used in many homes built before 1978. Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by breathing in the lead dust (especially during activities such as renovations, repairs or painting) or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, and other places.
Children can also become exposed to lead dust from adults’ jobs or hobbies, and from some metal toys or toys painted with lead-based paint. Lead impacts children at much lower levels, and can cause permanent learning and behavior problems. Additionally, while anyone can be lead poisoned, there is a disproportionate impact on minority and low-income families and their communities.
The problem is largely preventable with increased testing and education.
For more information on Chautauqua County’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, visit https://chqgov.com/environmental-health/lead-poisoning-prevention or call 716-753-4481.