Lead Poisoning Prevention Week: Get the Facts, Test Your Home, Test Your Child

Submitted by Justin Gould on Wed, 10/25/2023 - 10:44

MAYVILLE, NY — National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 22-28, 2023.  As part of their work to prevent disease, promote health and protect the safety of the community, the Chautauqua County Health Department warns of the dangers of lead poisoning in infants and young children and the potential lifetime effects for lead poisoned children.

Chautauqua County’s children are being poisoned by lead at a rate over 4 times higher than the New York State average, mainly due to the old housing stock in the County.

Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health
and cause well-documented adverse effects such as:

This can cause:

  • Damage to the brain and nervous system
  • Slowed growth and development
  • Learning and behavior problems
  • Hearing and speech problems
  • Lower IQ
  • Decreased ability to pay attention
  • Underperformance in school


The effects caused by lead poisoning generally don’t show up right away, but can negatively impact a child the rest of their life. A simple blood lead test is the only way to know if a child has been exposed and is recommended at ages one and two. Despite being a high-risk area, recent New York State Department of Health data indicates that 4 out of 10 children in Chautauqua County are missing one or both of their recommended blood lead tests. 

“We are working with parents and community partners to help parents understand how important it is to have their child tested,” said Dr. Michael W. Faulk, Chief Medical Officer and Interim Public Health Director. “Catching lead poisoning early, and then finding and eliminating the source of exposure can minimize potential consequences to the child.”   

“Chautauqua County has some of the oldest housing stock in the nation, and unfortunately much of it contains lead paint, putting children in our community at high risk for being poisoned by lead in their homes. Getting your home tested is the only way to know for sure if there is lead paint,” explained Anna Powell, Childhood Lead Program Coordinator.

Chautauqua County Health Department will test any home built before 1978 for lead at no charge where a child under 6 lives or visits at least 6 hours per week.  If lead paint is found, Department staff will provide guidance to the homeowner and residents, and connect the owner with resources to help eliminate the lead poisoning risk.  This testing is available year-round in Chautauqua County.

“Testing your home prior to painting, renovations, or remodeling is a key prevention strategy.  By disturbing lead based paint, especially underlying layers of old paint, you will create lead dust hazards that poison children,” states Powell.  “Hiring lead – safe certified contractors is a requirement when working with lead based paint. Whether you are a handyman, contractor or DIY’er, our program can assist with free lead – safe trainings and certifications.”

While lead paint is by far the main source of lead poisoning in Chautauqua County, it is not the only source that children may come in contact with.  This is why it is so important that each child get their recommended blood lead tests, regardless of where they live. If screening and testing show high lead levels, then the source(s) of lead exposure can be tracked-down and removed to ensure that continued exposure does not occur.

Families are encouraged to ask questions about lead poisoning in our community via social media, using #LeadSafeCHQ and follow the Chautauqua County Health Department on Facebook @HealthyCHQ

The Centers for Disease Control offers information and answers to frequently asked questions about childhood lead poisoning on its website: www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/overview.html

For more information about Chautauqua County Health Department’s Lead Prevention Program, contact Anna Powell at 716-753-4764.

About Chautauqua County Health Department - The Chautauqua County Health Department is the leading Public Health organization in Chautauqua County dedicated to the support of the community’s health.  The Health Department takes innovative approaches to provide technical assistance to partner organizations, and offers various programs and services in order to help prevent disease, protect the public’s health and promote our community’s overall health and wellness.  For more information visit www.HealthyCHQ.com.


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