October 17, 2011

Mangano and Eisenstein Recognize National Lead Poisoning

Prevention Week

Mineola, NY - In recognition of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW), October 23rd – 29th, Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano and Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein remind residents that lead poisoning is one of the most preventable childhood health problems. Major sources of lead exposure among U.S. children are lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings.

Sources of Lead

Lead paint is found in homes built before 1978. Even if your home has been repainted, repeated rubbing of one painted surface against another (such as opening and closing windows) could expose old, lead-based paint in your home. Worn, cracked or peeling lead-based paint may cause lead poisoning, especially in children. Additional sources of lead include various imported goods, such as toys, Mexican candy, cosmetics, foods, spices, herbal remedies, and children’s jewelry. Lead has also been found in Mexican, Indian, and Middle Eastern pottery, painted china, leaded glass, crystal and pewter.  These should not be used to serve or store food.  High levels have also been found in some Ayurvedic medicines, kohl, surma, greta and azarcon.  Remodeling in the home can also be a source of lead exposure.

Lead Levels

A child can get lead poisoning by swallowing or breathing in lead or lead dust.  Even small amounts of lead can harm a child's developing nervous system and may result in behavior problems, learning disorders, poor school performance, lower I.Q., hearing loss, anemia, kidney damage or growth retardation. The only way to know if a child has lead poisoning is to get a blood lead test. 

New York State law states that children must have a blood test for lead exposure at ages one and two years and also be assessed annually until age six by their health care providers. Additionally, children entering day care or nursery school must show proof of having had a blood lead test.

What Can You Do?

Here are some simple ways to reduce your child’s exposure to lead:

  1. Get your home tested.  Before you buy an older home, ask for a lead inspection.
  2. Get your child tested.  Even if your young children seem healthy, ask you doctor to test them for lead.
  3. Get the facts! The Department of Health can provide you with helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning. Contact us at 516-227-9665.

Federal Grant Funding Available For Home Lead Removal

The Nassau County Department of Health continues the joint effort with the Office of Community Development in a Lead Hazard Reduction Grant.  This $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allows the county to fund environmental assessments and Lead hazard removal for homes with identified lead hazards whereas prior to this grant, the county was only able to fund environmental assessments.   Homeowners will need to meet certain income requirements to qualify.  For more information on this program, please call (516) 572-1915.

Nassau County Department of Health

The Department of Health provides case management services to parents of all children with elevated blood lead levels and inspects their homes to identify the cause of the lead poisoning.   For information and literature on lead testing and on reducing lead hazards from soil, dust, water, food and other sources, call the Nassau County Department of Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (516) 227- 9665 or visit the Nassau County Department of Health Website at http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/Health/physician/lead_prevent.html or the NYS Department of Health at www.nyhealth.gov/environmental/lead or a joint website by the Ad Council, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning at www.leadfreekids.org