For Immediate Release:
October 20, 2008
Protect Your Children from Lead Poisoning
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 19-25
LOS ANGELES - Lead can be a hidden threat to children in some homes, but this threat can be easily avoided. National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week encourages parents and care givers to learn how to recognize and remove harmful lead hazards.
"Lead poisoning is a serious public health problem, especially for children under the age of six who are at greatest risk for negative health effects including learning and behavior problems," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. "Most children with high lead levels do not look or act sick, but they can suffer long-term health consequences if measures are not taken to reduce the sources of lead in their environments. We actively work with communities across Los Angeles County to educate and provide resources to families to solve this preventable health problem."
In 2007 in LA County, more than 600 children were identified with elevated levels of lead in their blood. Children in the first few years of life are at particular risk of adverse effects if they have elevated lead levels in their system.
This year's theme, "Let's Wipe Out Lead Poisoning – Renovate Right," raises awareness about renovation activities that can result in increased levels of lead in the blood of children. Recent research showed that children living in a home under renovation and remodeling were 30 percent more likely to have elevated levels of lead in their blood. Home renovation can generate a lot of dust if the work area is not properly contained and cleaned. In LA County, the most common way children are poisoned by lead is by exposure to lead-based paint, especially if it is deteriorating. Lead-based paint is commonly found in houses, apartments, and buildings built before 1978. Dust from the paint can settle on toys, windowsills, and floors, providing opportunity for children to swallow the dust or paint chips.
"Lead poisoning can be prevented by keeping children away from lead-based paint that is chipping," said Fielding. "If a child has been poisoned by lead, good nutrition, including calcium and iron-rich foods, can minimize the effects on the child's body."
Other sources of lead exposure could be:
· Ground soil that has been contaminated by lead paint, lead dust, or leaded gasoline;
· Lead dust that comes into the home on work clothes or work boots;
· Folk or traditional remedies, such as Azarcón and Greta;
· Various imported goods, such as toys, candy, ceramics, and children’s jewelry;
· Hobbies using items that contain lead, such as soldering, making stained glass, and handling bullets or fishing sinkers.
· Drinking water represents a very minor source of lead exposure, compared to the other sources listed above.
The only way to know if a child has been poisoned by lead is through a blood test. For information on free and low-cost health services for children and teens, information on lead safe renovation tips, or for more information on lead poisoning prevention, call 1-800-LA-4-LEAD (1-800-524-5323).
For more information on National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and how to renovate a home while avoiding lead-related hazards, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s website at: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/events/NLPPW/leadweek2008.htm.
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the
nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do, please visit http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.
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