National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and identifying heavy metal exposure risks in homes, schools and businesses

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is taking place this year from October 25th through the 31st.

This is an important effort as no safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Some of the lead facts shared by NLPPW sponsors include the following:

  • Lead is a toxic element, especially in young children. When absorbed into the body, it can result in damage to the brain and nervous system, learning and behavior problems, slow growth and development, and hearing and speech problems.
  • Lead poisoning is preventable. The key is preventing children from coming into contact with lead.
  • Lead can be found inside and outside the home. The most common source of exposure is from lead-based paint, which was used in many homes built before 1978. Children can be exposed by swallowing or breathing in lead dust created by old paint that has cracked and chipped, eating paint chips or chewing on surfaces coated with lead-based paint, such as window sills.
  • There are simple steps that can be taken to protect family members from lead-based paint hazards in the home, such as regularly cleaning the home, washing children’s hands and toys often, and wiping shoes before entering the home.
  • If one lives in a home built before 1978, a certified inspector or risk assessor can be hired to check for lead-based paint hazards.
  • Lead can also be found in drinking water. The most common sources of lead in drinking water are from lead pipes, faucets and fixtures.
  • Other examples of possible sources of lead include some metal toys or toys painted with lead-based paint, furniture painted with lead-based paint, some metal-containing jewelry, some imported items (i.e., health remedies, foods and candies, cosmetics, powders or make-up used in religious ceremonies), and lead-glazed pottery or porcelain.

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