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National Lead Poisoning
Prevention Week: Has Your
Child Been Tested For Lead?

By on October 22, 2018

[Clifton, NJ]The Clifton Health Department would like to take the opportunity to remind residents that National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 21-27, 2018. The purpose of this campaign is to help individuals, organizations, and state and local governments work together to reduce childhood exposure to lead. Childhood lead poisoning is considered to be the most preventable environmental disease of young children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead is a soft, dense, blue-gray metal that occurs naturally in the earth’s crust, where it combines with elements such as oxygen and sulfur. It is used to make batteries and metal mixtures. Lead is also contained in some ammunitions, old pipes, automotive radiators , pottery, folk medicines, leaded crystal glass, and as a contaminant in trace amounts in many products. Because of health concerns, lead is no longer added to gasoline and house paints.

People can be exposed to small amounts of lead by breathing air, drinking water, eating food, or swallowing dust or dirt that contains lead. For adults, diet is the source of most general low-level environmental exposure to lead. Children can be exposed to more lead than adults. Most commonly, they are exposed from hand-to-mouth activities involving contaminated dust and soils around older homes that contain lead-based paint or from eating paint chips that contain lead. Less common sources of lead exposure include folk medicines, cosmetics, ceramic and metal cookware, and imported toys. Workers may be exposed in industries that involve lead, such as smelting and battery manufacturing.

Lead exposure is known to affect human health, especially the health of children.  There is no safe level of lead and even low levels of lead can create a number of health issues. Lead is known to be toxic to body systems, including the central nervous system and brain, the reproductive system, the kidneys, the cardiovascular system, the blood, and the immune system.  Lead is particularly harmful to children’s developing brains, and can cause reduced IQ and attention span, impaired learning ability, and increased risk of behavioral problems.

It is important to determine the construction year of the house or the dwelling where your child spends a large amount of time (e.g., grandparents or daycare). In housing built before 1978, assume that the paint has lead unless tests show otherwise. The CDC recommends that individuals take the following steps to prevent exposure to lead:

  • Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint
  • Children and pregnant women should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation. They should not participate in activities that disturb old paint or in cleaning up paint debris after work is completed
  • Create barriers between living/play areas and lead sources. Until environmental clean-up is completed, you should clean and isolate all sources of lead. Close and lock doors to keep children away from chipping or peeling paint on walls. You can also apply temporary barriers such as contact paper or duct tape, to cover holes in walls or to block children’s access to other sources of lead
  • Regularly wash children’s hands and toys. Hands and toys can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil. Both are known lead sources
  • Regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window components. Because household dust is a major source of lead, you should wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces every 2-3 weeks. Take off shoes when entering the house to prevent bringing lead-contaminated soil in from outside
  • Prevent children from playing in bare soil. Plant grass on areas of bare soil or cover the soil with grass seed, mulch, or wood chips, if possible. Until the bare soil is covered, move play areas away from bare soil and away from the sides of the house

According to the New Jersey Department of Health, there are two testing methods determining whether a child has been exposed to lead. One involves taking blood from a finger (capillary) and the other from a vein (venous). New Jersey’s Lead Exposure Testing Law requires that children be tested at both 12 and 24 months of age. In addition, it states that any child between 25 to 72 months (less than 6 years) of age who has never previously been tested receving the testing, and that any child up to 72 months of age who has been exposed to a known or suspected source of lead receive testing. For any questions on childhood lead poisoning, please visit the NJDOH’s page  at https://www.state.nj.us/health/childhoodlead/.

The Clifton Health Department is a contractual health agency serving the Township of Little Falls.

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