DPH’s Environmental Health Section Promotes Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future

October 27, 2015

Thousands of children living in the United States have elevated blood lead levels that may cause significant damage to their health. In Georgia, more than 3,000 children under the age of 6 suffer from lead poisoning every day.                                 

To raise awareness about the consequences of lead poisoning, the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Lead and Healthy Homes Program is participating in National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) taking place Oct. 25 – 31.

DPH joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in recognizing this public health observance and educating the public about the risks of lead poisoning among children, pregnant women and families.

Established in 1999 by the U.S. Senate, NLPPW occurs every year during the last week in October. During this week, many states and communities offer free blood lead testing and conduct various education and awareness events.

This year's NLPPW theme, "Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future," underscores the importance of testing your home, evaluating children’s blood lead levels and learning how to prevent the serious health effects of lead poisoning.

Georgia’s children at highest risk for lead poisoning are those who live in residences built before 1978, the year that the Consumer Product Safety Commission mandated the removal of lead from residential paint. According DPH data, 1.64 million housing units in Georgia were built prior to 1978 and may be a lead-based paint exposure risk for children. That is 40.1 percent of all housing units in the state. 

According to CDC, the reference level for childhood lead poisoning is 5 micrograms per deciliter. When children have blood lead levels above the acceptable reference levels, they are at risk for developing learning problems, hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and aggressive patterns of behavior.

Stopping a child’s exposure to lead from leaded paint, house dust or any other source is the best way to prevent these harmful effects of lead. EPA’s Lead website provides simple recommendations that can help families ensure their home is lead-safe if it was built before 1978, including:                                                            

  • Conduct a paint inspection in your home to evaluate the lead content in the different types of paint found throughout your home.
  • Test your home’s water to determine if lead is present in your water system.
  • Maintain your home’s condition by fixing common problems such as chipping or deteriorating paint and check areas that rub together or get lots of wear such as windows, doors and stairways.
  • If you’ve set out to renovate your home, consider working with a lead-safe certified renovation firm in your area.
  • Keep childrens play areas, toys and furniture clean to ensure they are free from lead particles, dust or flaking paint.

To learn more about the Lead and Healthy Homes Program in Georgia, visit DPH’s Environmental Health Section online. For more tips and information about lead safety, visit the EPA’s Lead website at www.epa.gov/Lead

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