This is Lead Poisoning Prevention WeekOct 21, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
WPCVA has announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared October 18-24 Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. The move is part of the EPA’s efforts to heighten awareness to the toxin and its hazards, said WPCVA.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about half of all urban children world-wide and under the age of five test with blood lead levels higher than the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) safe limit.
Exposure to lead in children can cause brain and nervous system damage, behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems. Lead is also known to cause cancer and reproductive harm. Once poisoned by lead, no organ system is immune. Of particular concern is the developing brain because negative influences can have long-lasting effects and can continue well into puberty and beyond.
As we have often written, lead is considered by many experts to be one of the most important chronic environmental illnesses affecting children today. Unfortunately, despite efforts to control lead exposure, serious cases still occur. Lead effects were first discussed in Australia in 1892, said the BBC, which added that in the United Kingdom, lead has been removed from paint and petrol (gasoline). In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the BBC, dropped its “level of concern for blood” lead levels to 10 micrograms per deciliter.
WPCVA explained that lead can be in our homes, poisoning us without our ever being aware of its presence because it cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled and it does not break down. Lead has been removed, or mostly removed, from gasoline, plumbing, paint, and a variety of other products; however, precautions should be still be taken and consumers should be aware of the adverse effects of lead exposure, said WPCVA. As part of ongoing efforts to stave lead exposure and poisoning, WPCVA suggests the following:
- Ensure children are tested for lead levels, regardless of physical appearance since lead poisoning is not generally apparent.
- Reduce dust and dirt, which are known to contain lead, and ensure, for instance, toys, hands, pacifiers, floors, window frames, bottles, sippy cups, and surfaces, are routinely washed.
- Reduce lead paint exposure, particularly in homes built before 1976, by watching out for peeling or chipping paint and keeping children away from chewable, painted surfaces, such as window sills.
- Never attempt to remove lead paint and always hire a professional to do so.
- Eat right, especially consuming sufficient iron and calcium, which absorb less lead.
- Never store food or liquid in “lead crystal glassware or imported or old pottery,” said WPCVA. When using or reusing plastic bags, ensure the printing is on the bag’s exterior.
Under the new EPA rule effective next April, contractors renovating, repairing, and painting in such a way that lead-based paint is affected “in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978” must be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent contamination, reported WPCVA. Until then, the EPA urges adherence to lead-safe work practices: “Contain the work area, minimize dust, and cleanup thoroughly,” said WPCVA.