Every year the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency collaborate on a national outreach effort to observe National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. The three key themes for 2020 are:
- Get the Facts: Learn about the hazards of lead
- Get Your Home Tested: Learn how to minimize risks of lead exposure by hiring a certified professional to test older homes for lead, and
- Get Your Child Tested: A simple blood test can detect lead.
Lead is considered the nation’s number one preventable environmental health problem facing young children today. Lead is a neurotoxin that damages the nervous system and causes neurological disorders. Cognitive and behavior problems have been linked to lead exposure.
Children under the age of six years, pregnant women and others who work in lead-related industries are at the greatest risk of developing lead poisoning. The most common cause of children’s exposure to lead is from lead paint that was used in homes prior to 1978. Paint chips and dust are the main sources to childhood lead exposure.
Last July, Sustainable Downbeach and the Atlantic–Cape May County Sustainable Jersey Hub hosted a virtual educational webinar on lead. The program was put together by Kelly McLaughlin, program coordinator for the Southern Regional Childhood Lead Poisoning and Healthy Homes Coalition.
The webinar explains the hazards of lead, how to prevent lead exposure and what resources are available for education, testing, and remediation.
The program was recorded and can be accessed from the Hub’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqZ_A28yvpE
The best way to determine if a home has lead is to have the home inspected by a certified lead inspector. As part of their program, the Southern Regional Childhood Lead Poisoning and Healthy Homes Coalition offers free lead dust test wipe kits for South Jersey families to see if there is a presence of lead dust in their home.
You can request a kit by calling 1-888-722-2903 or visit https://www.snjpc.org/what-we-do/for-families/lead-and-healthy-homes/wol.html
The link has a video tutorial that explains how to do the test and mail it in for the results.
If there is lead-based paint in a home, occupants should not try to remove the paint themselves, as they can cause more harm as contaminated dust can be scattered throughout the home and be inhaled. It’s best to call a licensed professional to have the lead removed.
New Jersey offers a lead remediation program that can help offset the cost for eligible homeowners. For more information visit the Dept. of Community Affairs:
The only way to know if a child has been exposed to lead is by a blood test. A venous blood draw is the ideal method as it provides the most accurate results. Typically, the pediatrician will write a lab slip for parents to take their child to either Lab Corp or Quest Diagnostics to have the lead test done.
Local health departments can offer capillary blood testing for underinsured and uninsured children ages 6 and younger. Most Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) can do the lead test as most have labs on-site.
You can find more information about lead by visiting this website: https://www.snjpc.org/what-we-do/for-families/lead-and-healthy-homes/lhh.html
Steve Jasiecki is chairman of the Sustainable Margate green team.