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Lead Poisoning Prevention Week Oct. 25-31
(Little Rock, Ark.) - Childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children, yet around half a million children in the United States have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the level at which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says public health actions should start. A simple blood test can keep permanent damage that will last a lifetime from happening.
High levels of lead in the blood can affect the brain and might cause other health effects. Exposure to lead is even more harmful to children six years-old and younger because their brains and spinal cords are still developing. For these children, even being around very low levels of lead can cause permanent damage, such as reduced intelligence, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, behavioral problems, stunted growth, and hearing and kidney damage. Therefore, health officials consider any level of exposure to lead to be unsafe, particularly for young children.
“Prevention of lead exposure is key,” said Dr. Dirk Haselow, State Epidemiologist at the Arkansas Department of Health. “Once exposed, the effects in a child may be devastating and lifelong.”
There are many ways to come into contact with lead: through cracked or peeling paint, household dust, bare soil, air, drinking water, food, ceramics, home remedies, hair dyes, and makeup. The lead from these sources is too small for people to see. Children with high blood lead levels are most likely to have been exposed to lead in their own homes from lead dust and lead-based paint chips, especially if that home was built before 1978.
The good thing is that there are steps your family can take to reduce exposure.
• Wash your child’s hands before meals and after playing outside.
• Provide your child with meals and snacks that are high in iron, calcium and Vitamin C.
• Frequently wash toys, pacifiers and other items your child uses regularly.
• Dust and wet mop weekly.
• Have your family members leave their shoes outside the door.
• Test your home for lead to determine the source of exposure.
• Ensure that any home renovation and maintenance work is done in a lead-safe way.
• Follow-up with your child’s doctor.
The only way to fully rid a pre-1978 home of lead is to abate it. Abatement should always be done by a state-certified contractor. Abatement involves: the removal of lead-based paint and dust-lead hazards, the permanent covering or encapsulation of lead-based paint, the replacement of parts or fixtures painted with lead-based paint, and the removal or permanent covering of soil-lead hazards, as well as all set-up, cleanup, disposal, and post-abatement clearance testing actions linked to such measures.
To raise awareness of childhood lead poisoning prevention, the Arkansas Department of Health, along with other agencies, such as the CDC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is participating in National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) October 25-31.
Visit the Arkansas Department of Health’s Lead-based Paint Program at the following lead prevention activities in central Arkansas in support of NLPPW:
Saturday, Oct. 24
KIDSTOCK, Hilary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library, Little Rock, 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 26
Lowes, North Little Rock, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 26
Lowes, Hot Springs, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
BIG BOO!SEUM BASH, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
For more information, contact the Arkansas Department of Health’s Lead-based Paint Program at 501-671-1472.