Pennsylvania Department of Health Reminds Parents about Dangers of Lead Exposure
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is Oct. 23-29
HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is set to begin, the Pennsylvania Department of Health is reminding parents to test young children for lead exposure, and especially if they live in an older home.
“Houses built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust that can be inhaled or ingested by your children,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Eli Avila. “Lead poisoning can cause a variety of health-related problems, including permanent damage to the brain, the nervous system and the kidneys.”
Nearly 2,600 children statewide showed elevated blood lead levels in 2010, Dr. Avila noted.
Lead poisoning can be hard to diagnose without testing because its symptoms can be confused with other illnesses. Symptoms may include stomach aches or cramps, convulsions, headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, irritability, vision problems, loss of appetite and sleeplessness. If elevated blood lead levels are not detected early, children can develop behavior and learning problems including hyperactivity, slowed growth and aggressive behavior patterns.
The Department of Health recommends the following safety tips to reduce the risk of lead exposure, poisoning and related illness:
- Test children for lead poisoning at 1 and 2 years of age;
- Test older children if lead poisoning is suspected or if they have not been tested;
- Test homes built before 1978 for lead-based paint;
- Keep children away from flaking, peeling or chipping paint that may contain lead and away from paint dust that may contain lead;
- Do not dry-scrape, heat or burn paint; and
- People who work around lead should remove work clothes and shower before having contact with children.
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week occurs annually during the last week in October and raises awareness about the potential health risks associated with lead exposure. It also stresses the importance of having young children tested. The major source of lead exposure among children is inhalation or ingestion of lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in buildings built before 1978.
The Department of Health’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program provides comprehensive, childhood lead-poisoning prevention and control services in high-risk areas. The program provides free blood-lead testing to pregnant women and children who are between 6 months and 6 years of age.
For more information, visit www.health.state.pa.us or call the Department of Health’s toll-free Lead Information Line at 1-800-440-LEAD.
Media contacts: Christine Cronkright or Holli Senior, 717-787-1783
Editor’s Note: The following list includes events open to the public during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. Partners of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program will provide testing, educational materials on prevention, and will also explore the dangers of lead exposure and lead poisoning around the home.
Saturday, Oct. 22, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Capital Blue Cross Health Fair
Capital Blue Cross
2500 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg
Tuesday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Community Action Program of Lancaster Co., Inc.
601 S. Queen St., Lancaster
Thursday, Oct. 27, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Cargill Meat Packing Health Fair
Cargill Meat Solutions
65 Green Mountain Road, Hazleton
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health