NATIONAL LEAD POISONING PREVENTION WEEK, OCTOBER 21-27, KICKS OFF TO RAISE AWARENESS OF HOW TO PROTECT KIDS FROM THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF LEAD
October 19, 2012
Santa Clara County, CA. In Santa Clara County and nationwide, thousands of children are screened for lead exposure each year. Nearly half a million children living in the United States have elevated lead levels in their blood that can be very damaging to their health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the California Department of Public Health, of children under the age of six who were screened for lead exposure in 2010 in Santa Clara County, 344 had levels of lead in their blood that were 4.5 μg/dL or higher. Exposure to lead is toxic for children, and most often comes from lead-based paint, and lead-contaminated dust in deteriorating buildings.
Lead is a naturally occurring heavy metal that poses the highest risk of significant health problems for young children, ages one through six. Lead poisoning can affect children’s behaviors, hearing, and ability to learn. It can also cause brain damage, and in extreme cases, lead poisoning can be fatal.
This year’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week theme, “Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future,” reminds us of how important it is to get our children tested for lead exposure, test our homes, and learn how to prevent the serious health effects of lead.
“The Santa Clara County Public Health Department has a program dedicated to education, screening, diagnosis and treatment of lead poisoning in children and young adults,” said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib. “It is so important to screen for lead exposure early, because lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body. Because it often doesn’t have obvious symptoms, it can go unrecognized.”
The Department of Environmental Health’s Consumer Protection Division works to determine the source of lead poisoning in children, and also educates the public on how to protect themselves from the harmful effects of lead.
“It is very important to keep children away from areas where peeling paint is visible, as lead-containing paints must not be ingested,” said Heather Forshey, Director of Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health’s Consumer Protection Division. “Also, dust containing lead from peeling lead-based paint can land on window sills, floors, and toys, and it can be extremely harmful for children who ingest it.”
Lead has been found in many products, including children’s toys and toy jewelry. Five years ago, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of 70 products, including children’s toys, due to high levels of lead. This past year, there were fewer than five lead-related recalls. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has established lead limits for paint, ink and other surface coating at 0.009%, and for lead content at 0.01%.
“Federal safety standards coupled with new testing methods means increased protection from toxic chemicals,” said Kim Dulic, CPSC Spokesperson. “We want parents to know that safeguards have been put in place to keep children safe.”
The most common way to determine whether someone has been exposed to lead is through a blood test, since a person with lead poisoning often does not have symptoms.
Parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead in many ways, including:
• Get your home tested
. Before you buy an older home, ask for a lead inspection. Many houses built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint.
• Get your child tested
. Even if your child appears healthy, ask his or her doctor to check for lead. Lead poisoning often does now show symptoms.
• Get the facts!
Call the Public Health Department’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (408) 937-2250, or visit www.sccphd.org
for more information about preventing childhood lead poisoning.
Other Helpful Links
• For information about lead in our environment and California lead laws, please visit: www.sccgov.org/sites/deh
• For information about products that have been recalled due to high levels of lead, please visit: www.cpsc.gov
• For information about protecting yourself and children from lead exposure, please visit www.cdc.gov
• For information about lead in the environment, please visit www.epa.gov