National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 23-29th, 2011. Children under age 6 are most at risk for lead poisoning. You can prevent lead poisoning by getting your home tested, getting your child tested and getting the facts.
- Lead is a metal that is found in many places. You can’t always see lead, even when it is present in substances like paint, dust, or dirt.
- Lead in the body is not safe at any level. It only takes a very small amount to cause damage.
- Childhood lead poisoning can lead to life-long health problems, including learning disabilities, increased need for special education and higher crime rates. Lead harms the brain, making it harder for children to learn and can cause behavioral problems.
- Most children do not have any physical symptoms. Warning signs include: stomach pains, constipation, poor appetite, sleep problems, irritability, headaches, weakness, or loss of a recently learned skill.
- Children are most often exposed to lead in their home and at places they visit.
- Lead was added to paint until 1978.
- In housing built before 1978, assume that the paint has led unless tests show otherwise.
- Children eat lead by getting lead on their hands and then putting their hands in their mouth.
- Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chew-able surfaces painted with lead-based paint by creating barriers between living/play areas and lead sources. You can temporarily apply contact paper or duct tape to cover spaces with sources of lead.
- Regularly wash your children’s hands and toys. Both can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil.
- Regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe windows–dry-dust, sweeping or vacuuming will spread lead dust.
- Wipe dirt off shoes before coming inside your home.
- Whenever new exposures to lead may have occurred, have your child tested.
- DO NOT disturb paint without protecting your family from the dust that occurs during abatement.
- Feed your child 3 healthy meals a day–a diet high in iron, calcium and Vitamin C will help fight any lead in a child’s body.
- Do not use pottery for cooking or serving until you are sure of its glaze. Pottery can be contaminated with lead.
- Draw drinking water and cooking water only from the cold tap. Let it run for a few minutes first.
- Teach your child to wash their hands before eating.
The City of Chicago provides FREE lead inspections to homes with children under 6 years old and/or with children under 6 who frequently visit, call 311 and ask for lead inspection TODAY.
For information about tenants’ rights: call Megan Borneman, MTO Healthy Homes Organizer… 773-292-4980 ext. 231
For resources available to Chicago residents: call the Chicago Department of Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention… 312-747-LEAD (5323)
For resources available to non-Chicago residents in Cook County: call the Cook County Lead Prevention Program… 708-492-2076