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Guilford County Department of Public Health Recognizes North Carolina Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Month (Health Information)

Guilford County children continue to be poisoned by lead despite education and prevention endeavors including a local lead ordinance that requires childhood lead screening.  In 2007, Guilford County had 23 confirmed cases of elevated blood lead levels in children. In an effort to continue to raise community awareness of lead poisoning in our community, Guilford County Department of Public Health is joining the state in recognizing October as Lead Poisoning Prevention Month in North Carolina. The Department of Public Health would like to take this month to remind parents of the importance of lead screening for children; how simple the lead screening for children is; where to get their child screened for lead; and how to reduce lead in their child’s environment. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a child is legally lead poisoned when blood lead levels are confirmed to be equal to or greater than 20 ug/dl (micrograms per deciliter).  Children are at highest risk because they absorb up to fifty percent of the lead they ingest and this absorption interferes with the development of their brain and central nervous system.  Current research indicates that levels as low as 5 -7 ug/dl can cause developmental delays in children. Children ages one to three years are at very high risk for lead poisoning because they crawl on floors and put things in their mouths.

Lead can come from peeling lead-based paint, lead-contaminated dust, soil, certain imported products, and traditional remedies, makeup and other sources found within the homes of immigrant populations. Children can be exposed to lead even if no apparent exposures are identified.  Therefore, all children should be screened for lead in their blood. The test is a simple finger stick and should be done when the child is one year old and again at two years old.  The test can be done at the Guilford County Department of Public Health, 1100 E. Wendover Avenue in Greensboro or 501 E. Green Drive in High Point.  Lab hours are 9:00am – 12:00 noon, and 1:00pm – 4:00pm.  The test is FREE and no appointment is necessary.

Children may also be screened for lead at their private health care provider’s office.  Parents should check with their health care provider at their child’s one year and two year check-up visits.
“The good news is that we can prevent lead poisoning,” states Merle Green, Health Director.  “We must stop children from coming into contact with lead and treat those children who have been poisoned by lead. These hazards have to be identified and controlled or removed safely.”
Green asks parents to consider taking the following steps recommended by the CDC to reduce lead in your child’s environment:
• If your home was built before 1978, it is likely to contain lead-based paint. Contact the Department of Public Health for a free lead swab (supplies are limited) or visit any hardware store to purchase one. To learn more about lead safe home practices, consider participating in “House Calls,” the 5th Annual Healthy Homes Bus Tour, sponsored by Greensboro Housing Coalition on Thursday , October 2, at 3:00 p.m. Call the Greensboro Housing Coalition at (336) 691-9521 for more details and to register.  An Environmental Health Specialist will be on the tour to discuss lead in the home and answer questions.
• Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.

• Pregnant women and children 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, parents should clean and isolate all sources of lead.  They should 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.

• Wash children’s hands and toys frequently.  Hands and toys can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil.  Both are known lead sources.

• Wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window components frequently. Because household dust is a major source of lead, parents should wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces every two to three weeks.  Window sills and window wells can contain high levels of leaded dust.  They should be kept clean.  If feasible, windows should be shut to prevent abrasion of painted surfaces or opened from the top sash.

• Prevent children from playing in bare soil; if possible, provide them with sandboxes. Parents should 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, parents should move play areas away from bare soil and away from the sides of the house.  If using a sandbox, parents should also cover the box when not in use to prevent cats from using it as a litter box.  That will help protect children from exposure to animal waste.
To further reduce a child’s exposure from non-residential paint sources:
• avoid using traditional home remedies and cosmetics that may contain lead;
• avoid eating candies imported from Mexico;
• avoid using containers, cookware, or tableware to store or cook foods or liquids that are not shown to be lead free;
• remove recalled toys and toy jewelry immediately from children. Check lead recall lists.
• use only cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking, and for making baby formula (Hot water is more likely to contain higher levels of lead. Most of the lead in household water usually comes from the plumbing in your house, not from the local water supply.);
• shower and change clothes after finishing a task that involves working with lead-based products such as stain glass work, bullet making, or using a firing range.
For more information regarding local statistics or educational presentations available, please contact the Guilford County Department of Public Health, at 336-641-7777 or visit our website at www.guilfordhealth.org

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 2nd, 2008 at 8:35 am and is filed under Guilford County Department of Public Health Recognizes North Carolina Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Month (Health Information) in DPH Latest News, Children's Health, Environmental Health . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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