October 23, 2012
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (HHLPPP) is recognizing National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week October 21–27. The goal of this initiative is to increase awareness of childhood lead poisoning prevention.
Nearly half a million children living in the United States have elevated blood lead levels that may cause significant damage to their health, estimates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This estimate is based on children with a blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter (5 mcg/dL) or higher using data from national surveys conducted in 2007-2008 and 2009-2010. Major sources of lead exposure to U.S. 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.
“The primary source of lead exposure among children is lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust and soil found in and around older homes and buildings in need of maintenance,” said Director of Public Health Dr. José Montero. “Lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms so it is frequently unrecognized. A key to stopping lead poisoning in children is for parents to have their homes tested, have their children tested, and learn how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects.”
Approximately 62% of currently inhabited homes in New Hampshire were built before 1978, the year lead-based paint was banned from residential use. The blood lead limit used in New Hampshire is 10 mcg/dL. There were 93 new cases of lead exposure in children younger than 6 identified in the State in 2011. Based on CDC’s new reference value of 5 mcg/dL, there would have been 535 additional children with high blood lead level in New Hampshire in 2011.
Lead poisoning can contribute to serious and irreversible learning disabilities, behavioral problems, kidney damage, and loss of IQ points.
“Lead poisoning is a very serious health issue,” said Dr. Montero “the good news is that it is entirely preventable. We are focusing on raising awareness about how parents can test their homes, have their children tested, and learn how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects.”
Reducing a child’s exposure to lead can be done in several ways. Some simple things you can do to help protect your family include:
Get your Home Tested. Before you buy an older home (one built before 1978), ask for a lead inspection.
Get your Child Tested. Even if your young children seem healthy, ask your doctor to test them for lead, especially if they are under age six.
Get the Facts! Your state health department can provide you with helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning. Contact them at 1-800-897-LEAD (5323) or http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/bchs/clpp/index.htm.
For more information about lead poisoning prevention and lead-safe work practices, contact the NH HHLPPP at 1-800-897-LEAD (5323). Together we can wipe out lead poisoning!