This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW), and the Lead Abatement Resource Center of Chicago is joining several federal agencies in commemorating the occasion. Lead Poisoning Prevention week is dedicated to actions that address the health effects of lead exposure and increase awareness of childhood lead poisoning prevention.
This year’s NLPPW theme, Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future, highlights the importance of testing your child, developing an awareness of lead-based hazards in and around your home, and learning how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects. Lead Poisoning is 100% preventable.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that nearly half a million children living in the United States have elevated blood lead levels that may cause significant damage to their health. The health impacts of lead poisoning include damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior difficulties, and hearing and speech problems.
In Chicago, the number of children with lead poisoning significantly exceeds the national average, with the area’s South and West sides having the highest concentrations of childhood lead poisoning.
Major sources of lead exposure to children include lead-based paint, along with lead-contaminated soil and water. Here are some simple things parents can do to help protect their family from lead exposure:
- Get your child tested. Even if your young children seem healthy, ask your doctor to test them for lead, particularly if you live in an older home built before 1978. Blood lead tests are recommended for children at ages 12 and 24 months (and usually required at these ages for children who receive Medicaid).
- Learn about lead in soil and drinking water. Water pipes in some older homes may contain lead solder where lead may leach into the water. And soil around older homes is often contaminated with lead from flecked-off paint that has settled in the ground and can be carried into the home on shoes and hands.
- Understand the facts. For more information about preventing childhood lead poisoning, call the National Lead Information Center at their toll-free hotline, 1-800-424-LEAD (5323). The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) also has a program available that can provide financial assistance to fix lead hazards to people who meet certain income requirements. Tenants or property owners can apply through the local lead hotline at 312-747-LEAD (5323).