The Black Hawk County Health Department is pleased to recognize National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 20-26, 2019. The Health Department will host and participate in outreach and educational activities designed to raise local awareness about the danger of lead exposure and poisoning and educate parents on how to reduce exposure to lead in their environment, prevent its serious health effects, and learn about the importance of testing children for lead.

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The goal is to encourage organized, local community events, and to empower families and other stakeholders to take action. Black Hawk County Health Department Healthy Homes Coordinator, Andrea Magee says, “Lead prevention and abatement are so important to our county because of the number of homes built prior to 1978. We intend to increase awareness this week which we hope will carry through the rest of the year so residents know the importance of testing for and repairing the hazards of lead based paint.”

About 3.6 million American households have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards. According to the CDC, about 500,000 American children between ages of 1 and 5 years have blood lead levels greater than or equal to the level of blood reference value, the level at which CDC recommends public health actions.

Lead can be found inside and outside the home, including in the water that travels through lead pipes or in the soil around the house. However, the most common source of exposure is from lead-based paint, which was used in many homes built before 1978. Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by breathing in the lead dust (especially during activities such as renovations, repairs or painting) or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, and other places, or eating paint chips or soil that contain lead.

Children can also become exposed to lead dust from adults’ jobs or hobbies, and from some metal toys or toys painted with lead-based paint. Children are not exposed equally to lead, nor suffer its consequences in the same way. These disparities unduly burden minority families and low-income families and their communities.

The problem is largely preventable with increased testing and education. Follow the Black Hawk County Health Department’s Facebook and Twitter pages for informational links, videos and printable posters you can use to help spread the word and encourage more testing and education.

For more information on National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2019, please visit http://www.co.black-hawk.ia.us/264/Childhood-Lead-Poisoning-Prevention-Prog