October 19, 2012
Suffolk County Advises Parents to Get the Lead Out
To raise the public’s awareness of the consequences of childhood lead poisoning, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services will participate in National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW), October 21–27, 2012.
Suffolk joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in encouraging parents to learn more about preventing lead poisoning.
During the week, health-care staff will be available at the Long Island Latino Teachers Association 4th Annual Women’s Conference, the Town of Babylon’s 14th Annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration, and the county’s family health centers to speak with parents, provide adult educational materials in both English and Spanish, and offer coloring books and crayons to the children. In addition, the staff from the Childhood Lead Prevention program will be providing presentations to parents who participate in Mothers’ Group classes in Hampton Bays, Riverhead and Southampton.
“Lead is a major environmental threat for children, especially young children, causing problems with growth, behavior, and ability to learn,” said Commissioner James L. Tomarken.
Lead can harm babies even before they are born, so both pregnant women and children should stay away from home repairs. Most childhood lead poisoning is caused by dust from old, peeling lead paint in buildings that were built before 1978. This often invisible lead dust settles on toys, windowsills and floors. A child can get lead poisoning by swallowing lead or breathing in lead dust. Only a small amount of lead is needed to harm a young, growing child.
Dr. Tomarken offers the following advice to help protect children from lead in their environment:
· Assume any home built before 1978 contains lead paint. Keep all painted surfaces in good condition. Before you repair peeling paint or do home renovations, learn how to paint and repair safely and keep dust levels down by visiting the state’s website: http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/lead/
· If you rent a home built before 1978, ask your landlord to repair any peeling paint safely. If the landlord is not responsive, call your local building inspector or town clerk, listed in the phone book government blue pages.
· Keep babies and children away from peeling, chipped paint.
· Wash children’s hands, face, toys, bottles and pacifiers often.
· If you have a job or hobby that involves working with lead, change clothes and shoes before entering your personal residence. Wash work clothes separately from other clothes.
· Do not use leaded glass or pewter to serve or store food, as they contain lead. Some imported pottery, painted china, and crystal may also contain lead.
· Beware of many "non-Western" medicines (for example, Greta and Azarcon, used to treat diarrhea or gastrointestinal upset) and cosmetics (for example, Surma or Kohl, used around the eye for decorative or medicinal purposes), which may contain substantial quantities of lead and other metals.
· If you suspect your child has inhaled or swallowed lead, call your health-care provider.
Most children with lead poisoning do not look or feel sick. The only way to know if a child has lead poisoning is to get a blood test. In New York State, health care providers are required to test all children for lead at age one year, and again at age two years.
For more information about events taking place during Lead Poisoning Prevention Week or to find out when representatives from the department will be at a particular health center, call the Suffolk County Department of Health Services Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (631) 854-0215.