Get the Lead Out! Prevent Lead Poisoning This October
Get the lead out! October 22–28 is National Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and there is no better time to learn about lead, and take action at home and in our communities to address the harmful effects of lead on children.
Lead exposure and poisoning can harm brain and nervous system development, kidneys and other organs, and it can impact learning and behavior. It may also cause hearing and speech problems. Babies and children from the prenatal stage to age 5 are at the highest risk for lead poisoning and more susceptible to toxic effects, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In Los Angeles County, one of the greatest risks for lead exposure is old paint and dust from houses built before 1978, where lead paint was used. Other risk factors include:
- Ground soil that has been contaminated by lead paint, lead dust or leaded gasoline.
- Lead dust that comes into the home on work clothes or work boots.
- Some folk or traditional remedies, such as Azarcón and Greta.
- Various imported goods, which can include specific toys, ceramics, candy, face paint and children’s jewelry.
- Hobbies using items that contain lead, such as soldering, making stained glass, and handling bullets or fishing sinkers.
While lead poisoning is a silent, serious environmental threat, there’s a lot that we can do to protect children from it. According to the Centers for Disease Control, testing the paint and dust of houses built before 1978 and making sure your child does not have access to peeling or dusty lead-based painted areas can decrease risk. It’s also important for children and pregnant women to avoid exposure to lead-based paint during renovations. Other ways to decrease lead risk include:
●Washing children’s hands and toys, which pick up household dust or exterior soil — both are possible lead sources.
●Removing shoes when entering the house to avoid bringing lead-contaminated soil inside.
- Not allowing children to play in soil. Plant grass, cover soil with mulch or build sandboxes for playing.
- Using cold water in formula and cooking. It may contain less lead than hot water that sits in pipes longer.
Parents and caregivers can find out more about lead poisoning prevention from the L.A. County Department of Public Health by calling 1-800-LA-4-LEAD or searching online at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/lead.