Tips for preventing lead poisoning
The Rockland County Department of Health is promoting Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and asks all parents and future parents to learn about the hazards of lead poisoning and how to prevent it.
Young children, especially those ages 6 months to 6 years old, are most at risk of being poisoned by lead in their environment. Young children tend to put their fingers and toys in their mouths and play in places where lead dust and chips are found. Lead can also be found in soil and tap water, toys and toy jewelry, pottery or containers, candy, folk medicine made in other countries and workplaces where auto repair, construction and plumbing are done.
Lead can also be harmful to pregnant women and their fetuses.
The harm from lead poisoning can be severe. It damages the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Some of the health problems caused by lead poisoning may never go away. Lead in a child's body can slow down growth and development, damage hearing and speech, cause behavior problems and make it hard for children to pay attention and learn.
Children also can get lead poisoning from living or staying in older homes that have lead paint. Many homes built before 1978 have lead paint on the inside and outside of the building. When old paint is sanded, scraped, brushed or burned, or if it cracks and peels from wear and tear, it creates lead dust. Lead can be found in many types of houses, from rundown homes to historical mansions.
"The only way to tell if a child has lead poisoning is a blood lead test," said Dr. Joan H. Facelle, Rockland County's health commissioner. "Health care providers are required to test all children's blood lead levels at age 1 year and again at age 2. Testing at an early age and prevention are so important!"
Before any work is done in your home, get more information about lead-safe work practices. Call the Rockland County Department of Health at 845-364-3839 and ask for the pamphlets "Protect Your Family from Lead In Your Home" and "Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information For Families, Child Care Providers And Schools."
In addition, speakers are available to talk to organizations about lead poisoning. Contact Barbara Plasker at 845-364-3839 for more information on lead poisoning or visit http://rocklandgov.com/departments/health/programs-and-services/lead-poisoning-prevention-program/.