It’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, so here at CLF we’re getting the word out about the hazards of lead and ways we can protect our children – and we hope you’ll join us.
Every year across New England, more than 12,000 kids are diagnosed with lead poisoning (that’s 12,000+ new kids each year). It’s a sad and startling fact, especially considering the dangers of lead, and that lead poisoning is preventable.
As I’ve previously written, there is no safe level of lead exposure – especially for kids up to six years old, when rapid brain development is occurring. Even low blood lead levels – levels much lower than what has historically been considered “elevated” – can lead to cognitive deficiencies, including low IQs and attention-deficit disorders. What’s worse, the harmful effects of lead are permanent and irreversible.
So, what can we all do to protect our kids?
For us parents, a first key step is to have our kids tested – something that can be done through a simple blood test at your next doctor visit. Next, whether or not testing reveals the presence of lead, the best way to protect our kids is to know the answers to a few simple questions:
- What are the sources of lead poisoning? Deteriorating lead-based paint, including dust from deteriorating paint, is the largest source, though as we know from the tragedy in Flint, Michigan, water can also be a concern.
- How do I know if lead-based paint is present in my home or apartment? If it was built before the 1978 ban on lead-based paint, it’s safest to assume that it’s present. A simple do-it-yourself test kit available at your local hardware store can be used to confirm.
- How can I determine if lead is present in my water? Again, easy do-it-yourself test kits are available to help you find out.
- How can I protect my kids from lead if it’s present in our painted surfaces or water? There are steps that can be taken – it’s just a matter of knowing them.
To ensure that everyone can get the answers to these critical questions, including ways we can all better protect our families, we’re pleased to have led a collaboration to develop a new resource – LeadFreeKidsNH. While developed with a focus on New Hampshire, the information about lead poisoning and ways to prevent it applies wherever you live, so we hope you’ll visit the website to learn more.
Even though we removed lead from our paint and gasoline decades ago, lead poisoning remains a problem for too many of New England’s kids today – and it’s putting their futures at stake.