LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Ark. Dept. of Health) - Protecting children from exposure to lead is important to their health and success in life. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, the ability to pay attention, and progress in school. The health effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected. The most important step parents, doctors, and others can take is to prevent lead exposure before it occurs.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that nearly half a million children living in the U. S. have elevated blood lead levels that may cause significant damage to their health. Dr. Dirk Haselow, an ADH pediatrician, says, "Due to the potential lifelong health effects caused by lead exposure, it is important for parents to be aware of the factors that put their children in danger. A simple blood test can indicate if your child may be at risk."
Major sources of lead exposure to U.S. children include lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in old housing, typically built before 1978. In Arkansas, most counties contain on average at least 50% or more of pre-1978 housing. Children can also be exposed to lead from other sources including tainted drinking water, lead brought into the home from the workplace and lead in soil. Despite the continued presence of lead in the environment, lead poisoning is preventable.
To increase awareness of childhood lead poisoning prevention, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), along with the CDC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is participating in National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) October 21-27.
During the week, ADH employees will be providing information about lead exposure, safe lead-based paint removal and repair and the connection between a healthy diet and lead absorption. The ADH Lead Outreach Team is participating in these events:
• Tuesday, October 23, Chenal Elementary Kindergarten and 1st Graders in Little Rock
will learn how to protect themselves from lead exposure by properly washing their hands and eating healthy foods.
• Friday, October 26, the Lead Outreach Team will be doing Lead Poisoning Prevention Outreach for children and their families attending the Boo Bash in Benton.
Parents can reduce a child's exposure to lead in many ways. Here are some simple things you can do to help protect your family:
• Get your Home Tested. Before you buy an older home, ask for a lead inspection.
• Get your Child Tested. Even if your young children seem healthy, ask your doctor about testing your child for lead.
• Get the Facts! ADH can provide you with helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning. Contact the ADH Lead-Based Paint Program at 671-1549 or visit the website at www.healthy.arkansas.gov and do a search for the Lead-Based Paint Program.
Let's keep our kids "Lead-free for a healthy future." For more information, contact the ADH Lead-Based Paint Program or call the National Lead Information Line, 1-800-424-LEAD.