National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is Oct. 24-30
HARRISBURG– With more than 2,700 children having elevated blood lead levels in 2009, the Department of Health reminds parents to test young children for lead exposure, especially during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, Oct. 24-30.
“If elevated blood lead levels are not detected early, children can develop behavior and learning problems including hyperactivity, slowed growth and aggressive behavior patterns,” said acting Secretary of Health Michael Huff. “If you’re living in a home where lead-based paint is present, you need to be aware of the potential hazards it can cause and get your children tested.”
Lead poisoning can cause a variety of health-related problems, including permanent damage to the brain, the nervous system and the kidneys. Lead poisoning often does not present symptoms, but when they do occur, they are commonly confused with other illnesses. Symptoms may include stomach aches or cramps, convulsions, headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, irritability, vision problems, loss of appetite and sleeplessness.
The Department of Health recommends the following safety tips to reduce the risk of lead exposure, poisoning and related illness:
• Test children for lead poisoning at one and two years of age, and no later than three years;
• Test homes built before 1978 for lead-based paint;
• Keep children away from any peeling paint that may contain lead;
• Wash children’s hands often along with their toys and pacifiers;
• Wash hard surfaces, such as floors and window ledges, weekly;
• Do not dry-scrape, heat or burn paint; and
• People who work around lead should remove work clothes before having contact with children.
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week occurs annually during the last week in October and raises awareness about the potential health risks associated with lead exposure and stresses the importance of having young children tested. The major source of lead exposure among children is inhalation or ingestion of lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in buildings built before 1978.
The Department of Health’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program provides comprehensive, childhood lead-poisoning prevention and control services in high-risk areas. The program provides free blood-lead testing to pregnant women and children who are between six months and six years of age.
For more information, visit www.health.state.pa.us or call the Department of Health’s toll-free Lead Information Line at 1-800-440-LEAD.