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Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2023: October 22 to October 28

(ITHACA, NY, October 23, 2023) – National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) occurs each year and is an important reminder and call to action to increase lead poisoning prevention awareness to reduce childhood exposure to lead. There are many sources of lead, but most often, children under six years old get lead poisoning from breathing in or swallowing dust from old lead paint that gets on floors and windowsills, hands, and toys. Despite the continued presence of lead in the environment, lead poisoning is preventable.

In 1978, the FDA banned lead-based paint, but many older homes still have lead-based paint present, often under layers of newer paint. In Tompkins County, close to 60% of housing structures were built prior to 1978 (2020 American Community Survey, 5-year estimates). Home renovation projects in older homes increase the risk of creating dust containing lead; special precautions are advised, including testing for lead prior to beginning projects, and taking steps to mitigate and contain dust. Learn more at: https://www.epa.gov/lead/lead-safe-renovations-diyers

All children should have their blood tested for lead levels at ages 1 and 2, as required by NYS law. Healthcare providers will offer this test at children’s Well Visits. It is important to test your home, test your children, and learn how to prevent the serious health effects from lead poisoning. These may include a lower IQ, hearing loss, kidney disease, and growth problems. If you have any concerns, speak to your health care provider or pediatrician about getting your child tested and other resources. 

Children can also be exposed to lead from additional sources, including take-home exposures from a workplace, lead in soil, and contaminated drinking water. Some traditional medicines and ointments used by East Indian, Indian, Middle Eastern, West Asian and Hispanic cultures may also contain lead. Spices used for cooking have also been recalled due to high levels of lead. Old toys and furniture, such as painted cribs and highchairs, often passed down through families, can be another source of exposure. Costume jewelry, especially imported painted items, have been tested and found to have high levels of lead. 

Gail Birnbaum, Community Health Nurse at Tompkins County Whole Health stated, “When there is healthy food in the body, it is more difficult for lead to be absorbed. Make sure your diet is rich in important nutrients such as calcium, iron and vitamin C.” 

Birnbaum continued, “In partnership with our Environmental Health colleagues who are certified lead assessors, we help parents identify sources of lead that may be the cause of lead poisoning and we provide education on prevention and testing. NYS law and regulations require health care providers to test all children’s blood lead levels at ages one and two years.” 

For more information on local lead poisoning prevention efforts, please visit our website:  https://www.tompkinscountyny.gov/health/lead  

For more information about National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/national-lead-poisoning-prevention-week.htm 

Visit the National Center for Healthy Housing for additional information and resources: https://nchh.org/build-the-movement/nlppw/  

Tompkins County Whole Health (formerly the Tompkins County Health Department) envisions a future where every person in Tompkins County can achieve wellness. Find us online at TompkinsCountyNY.gov/health, and follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/TompkinsWholeHealth and on Twitter at @TCWholeHealth. Get Whole Health updates or other county announcements via email or text, sign up here.

Media contact: Shannon Alvord, salvord@tompkins-co.org