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lead poisoning

September 25, 2018 - 12:04pm

Public Health Column from the Genesee County Health Department:

Do you have small children or grandchildren? Are you pregnant and getting your older home ready for your new baby? Do you live in a house or send your children to a day care center built before 1978? Do you know the last time your child was tested for lead poisoning?

If you don’t know the answer to the last question, talk with your primary care provider or contact your local Health Department and ask about testing.

Lead is a metal that can harm children and adults when it gets into their bodies. Lead can be found in dust, air, water, soil, and in some products used in and around the home. Most homes built before 1978 have old lead paint, often under newer paint.

If paint peels, cracks, or is worn down, the chips and dust from the old lead paint can spread onto floors, windowsills and all around your home. Lead dust can then get onto children's hands and toys, and into their mouths.

Generally there are no signs or symptoms to help you know if your child has lead poisoning. A person with lead poisoning usually does not look or feel sick. The best way to find out if your child has lead poisoning is by testing.

The most common test is a quick blood test. It measures how much lead is in the bloodstream. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, the ability to pay attention, delayed development, and academic achievement.

New York State requires doctors to test all children with a blood lead test at age 1 year and again at age 2 years. At every well-child visit up to age 6, health care providers must ask parents about any contact their child might have had with lead.

If there's been a chance of contact, providers are required to test for lead again. Parents can ask their child's doctor or nurse if their child should get a lead test, and what the lead test results mean.

“Children under the age of 6 years old are at risk because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands and/or other objects, which may be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths,” said Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans Counties.

In addition to children, pregnant women should be tested for lead as well.

“Expectant mothers who live in an older home and are exposed to lead dust can inhale the particles and pass it on to their baby," Bedard said. "Your doctor should discuss proper prenatal care to reduce your exposure to lead during your pregnancy and how to prevent lead exposure to your baby once he/she is born.”

The good news is that you can protect your family from lead poisoning. Talk to your healthcare provider about potential lead sources in your house or anywhere your kids spend long periods of time, such as a daycare or a relative’s house.

Here are some ways to reduce or eliminate your exposure to lead/ lead dust:

Fix peeling lead paint and make home repairs safely.

  • Keep children away from peeling or chipped paint.

  • Before making repairs in a home built before 1978, call your local health department to learn how to work safely and keep dust levels down.

  • Children and pregnant women should stay away from repairs that disturb old paint, such as sanding and scraping. They should stay away until the    area is cleaned using wet cleaning methods and a HEPA vacuum (not dry sweeping).

Wash dust off hands, toys, bottles, windows and floors.

  • Wash your child's hands and face after play, before meals, and before bed.

  • Wash toys, stuffed animals, pacifiers and bottles with soap and water often.

  • Mop floors often, and use damp paper towels to clean window wells and sills.

Be careful not to bring lead home on clothes, toys, or jewelry.

Keep lead out of your food and tap water.

Serve foods that have calcium, iron, and vitamin C.

​Lead is in some children's jewelry, toys, keys, and old furniture. Sign up for children's product recall alerts at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.

Some jobs and hobbies can involve contact with lead. These include: painting, plumbing, construction, car repair, or working with firearms, stained glass or pottery.

To lower lead dust, change work clothes before going home; take shoes off at your door; wash work or hobby clothes separately; wash face, hands and uncovered skin before going home.

  • Let tap water run for one minute before using it, if it hasn't been run for a few hours. Town and well water could have lead from old plumbing.

  • Only use cold tap water for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula. Boiling your water does not get rid of lead.

  • Use lead-free dishes. Don't serve or store food in pewter, crystal, or cracked pottery.

These foods help keep lead from being stored in your child's body:

  • Foods with calcium: milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, and green, leafy vegetables.

  • Foods with iron: beans, lean meat, fortified cereal and peanut butter.

  • Foods with vitamin C: oranges, orange juice, grapefruit, tomatoes, green peppers.

For information about Health Department services contact: Genesee County Health Department at 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.

June 20, 2018 - 5:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in lead poisoning, public health column, news, Announcements.

Public Health Column from the Genesee County Health Department:

Is your child or grandchild at risk for lead poisoning? If you live in a home with peeling paint that was built before 1978, this may be something to consider.

Most commonly, kids get lead poisoning from lead-based paint, which was used in many U.S. homes until the late 1970s, when the government banned the manufacture of paint containing lead. That is why kids who live in older homes are at a greater risk for lead poisoning.

Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing in lead dust. Lead is a metal that can harm children and adults when it gets into their bodies. In addition to lead based paint in the home, there are many sources of lead including, but not limited to: paint on old toys, furniture, and crafts, dust, soil, drinking water, air, folk medicines, cosmetics, children’s jewelry and toys, workplace and hobbies, lead-glazed ceramics, china, leaded crystal, pewter, imported candies and/or food in cans, firearms with lead bullets, foreign made mini-blinds, car batteries, and radiators.

Lead can harm a young child's growth, ability to learn and may be linked with tooth decay / cavities, hearing loss, and behavior problems. Lead can also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy.

There are generally no symptoms or signs to help you know if your child has lead poisoning. A person with lead poisoning usually does not look or act sick. The best way to find out if your child has lead poisoning is by testing. The most common test is a quick blood test. It measures how much lead is in your bloodstream.

Because children continue to be at risk, New York State requires health care providers to test all children for lead with a blood lead test at age 1 year and again at age 2 years. At every well-child visit up to age 6, health care providers must ask parents about any contact their child might have had with lead.

If there's been a chance of contact, providers are required to test for lead again. Parents can ask their child's doctor or nurse if their child should get a lead test, and what the lead test results mean.

Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans counties, commented on why it is important for pregnant women to be tested for lead, too.

“Mothers who live in an older home and are exposed to lead dust can inhale the particles, and pass it on to their baby," Bedard said. "Some of the effects that lead can have on their unborn child include: delayed growth and development, premature delivery, low birth weight, and in some cases may result in a miscarriage.”

If you are pregnant, talk to your provider about getting tested for lead.

Although lead poisoning is preventable, lead continues to be a major cause of poisoning among children. Thousands of children are still at risk. Here are some simple things parents and caregivers can do to reduce a child’s exposure to lead:

  • Find the lead in your home. Most children get lead poisoning from lead paint in homes built before 1978. It is important to find and fix lead in your home as soon as possible. Have your home inspected by a licensed lead inspector;
  • Before purchasing an older home, ask for a lead inspection;
  • Get your child tested. Even if young children seem healthy, ask your doctor to test them for lead;
  • Learn about drinking water. Water pipes in some older homes may contain lead solder where lead may leach out into the water. Let cold water run for one minute before drinking it, especially if it has not been used for a few hours;
  • Give your child healthy foods. Feed your child healthy foods with calcium, iron, and vitamin C. These foods may help keep lead out of the body. Calcium is in milk, yogurt, cheese, and green leafy vegetables like spinach. Iron is in lean red meats, beans, peanut butter, and cereals. Vitamin C is in oranges, green and red peppers, and juice.
  • Clean up lead dust. When old paint cracks and peels, it makes lead dust. Lead dust is so small you cannot see it. Children get lead poisoning from swallowing dust on their hands and toys. Use a damp cloth and a damp mop to reduce the spread of dust;
  • Understand the facts! Your local health department can provide you with helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning.

For information about Health Department services contact:

  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.

April 12, 2018 - 5:08pm

From the Genesee County Health Department:

Spring is here, and although many of us are anticipating the arrival of the warm weather, home renovations will soon begin. A fresh coat of paint can spruce up and room and give it new life.

Many folks are anxious to begin their renovations, but it is crucial to keep in mind the age of your home. If your home was built before 1978, you must consider that the paint in your home could contain lead, and you will have to plan any home renovation, repair, and painting activity with that in mind.

Lead is a metal that can harm children and adults when it gets into their bodies. Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing in sources of lead. The most common source of lead poisoning comes from lead dust which is created from chipping, peeling, or deteriorated lead based paint. The smallest particles of lead dust cannot be seen but they can easily enter and harm the body.

Sarah Balduf, Environmental Health director of Genesee and Orleans counties, explains why renovating older homes could turn problematic if not completed properly.

“The greatest risk with renovating older homes is that many people are unaware that their home contains lead based paint because they have completed renovations since the 1970s," she said. "Even if the lead based paint has been covered with new paint or another covering, cracked or chipped painted surfaces can expose the lead based paint, creating a lead hazard.

"If proper precautions are not taken to renovate lead based paint correctly, the health and well-being of the folks residing in the home will be compromised.”

The damaging health effects of lead poisoning are particularly concerning to young children and pregnant women. When lead gets into their bodies, it is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans counties, further explains the complications associated with lead poisoning.

“Children who ingest lead are at risk for developing learning disabilities, behavioral issues, developmental delays, extreme lethargy, and chronic medical complications," he said. "Pregnant women who are exposed to lead can transfer the lead to their fetus.

"Some of the effects lead can have on their unborn child include delayed growth and development, premature delivery, low birth weight, and chronic medical complications. Adults who are exposed to high lead levels can also develop high blood pressure, headaches, digestive problems, memory and concentration problems, kidney damage, mood changes, nerve disorders, sleep disturbances, and muscle or joint pain.”

Although the negative health consequences of lead poisoning are scary, lead poisoning is 100-percent preventable! Renovating older homes require more work and safeguards to ensure the work being completed is done safely.

For larger projects, this may require hiring a lead-certified contractor. For smaller projects, you can manage the work yourself with proper precautions. Below are some tips on how to renovate right:

  • Remove all furnishings, rugs, etc. before beginning your project. The work area should be sealed with plastic and taped down to keep the lead dust in. Cover air vents and turn off heaters and air-conditioning systems during renovation and remodeling.
  • When beginning the renovation it is important to have the proper protective equipment on hand. It is best to wear a properly fitted respirator with special lead HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters, as well as coveralls, goggles and gloves.
  • Consider using special paints called encapsulants that seal the lead paint to the surface so it will not chip off.
  • Use low dust practices by spraying water on surfaces before sanding or scraping. Vacuum any lead dust with a HEPA vacuum. Floors should be wet mopped with a removable mop head and then HEPA vacuumed. When finished, the mop head should be disposed or washed separately.
  • Keep all non-workers, especially children, pregnant women, and pets outside of the work area until cleanup is completed.
  • After the project site has been completely cleaned, throw away your protective gear or wash it separately.

For more information on how to renovate right, please visit this government website.

For information about Health Department services contact the Genesee County Health Department at 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.

October 24, 2016 - 3:27pm

Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County Public Health Column:

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is this week, Oct. 23-29. The Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming County Health Departments encourage you to learn about lead, lead poisoning, and the importance of preventative testing in order to make our community a healthier one.

Lead is a metal found in the earth and it is a poison. For years, lead was used in paint, gas, plumbing and many other items. Since the late 1970s, lead paint was banned in the United States, however other countries may not have regulations regarding the use of lead products. Lead can be found in the soil, deteriorated paint, household dust, contaminated drinking water from old plumbing, lead-glazed pottery, some metal jewelry, and at some jobsites (typically construction, manufacturing and mining).

Lead poisoning is preventable but when ingested, even a small amount can cause severe and lasting harm. Exposure to lead can happen from breathing air or dust, eating contaminated foods, or drinking contaminated water. All houses built prior to 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 24 million housing units have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust.

Lead dust, fumes and paint chips can cause serious health problems. Too much lead in the human body can cause serious damage to the brain, nervous system and red blood cells. Everyone, young and old, can be affected if exposed, but children and pregnant women are considered at highest risk. Young children between 6 months and 6 years old are more likely to suffer health problems from lead exposure. Lead poisoning can slow a child’s physical growth and mental development and may cause behavior problems, intellectual disability, kidney and liver damage, blindness and even death.

“New York State Department of Health requires health care providers to obtain a blood lead test for all children at age 1 and again at age 2,” said Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services for Genesee and Orleans counties. “Up to age 6, your doctor or nurse should ask you about ways your child may have had contact with lead.

"Pregnant women are at high risk because lead can pass from mother to her unborn baby, as well as be responsible for high blood pressure and miscarriage. Also, be concerned if you or someone in your home has a hobby or job that brings them in contact with lead."

Prevention is the key! Protect yourself and your family from possible lead exposure by talking to your Primary Care Provider about lead testing. There are also many precautions that can be taken to protect yourself and your family; here are a few. Prior to consuming food, make sure hands are washed, clean your home weekly, do not allow your child to chew on something that is dirty, avoid wearing shoes in the house, and hire a qualified professional if you suspect there is lead in your home that you want removed.

For information about this topic or Health Department services contact,

  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website

at www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/health/index.html. Visit Facebook at Genesee County Health Department and Twitter at GeneseeCoHealthDept.

  • Orleans County Health Department at: 589-3278 or check out our website at: www.orleansny.com/publichealth. Visit Facebook and Twitter: the user name for both is OrleansCoHealth.
  • Wyoming County Health Department at: 786-8890 or visit their web site at www.wyomingco.net/health/main.html
October 30, 2015 - 1:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in lead poisoning, Genesee County Health Department.

Press release:

The Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County Health departments are participating in National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) Oct. 25 -31, joining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in encouraging all to learn more about how to prevent lead poisoning.

This year's theme is "Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future,” which stresses the importance of testing your home, testing your child and learning how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects. Lead particles can be ingested or inhaled posing serious threats to human health. If not detected early enough both children and adults are at risk.

“Lead does not affect everyone equally," said Laura Paolucci, Wyoming County Health Department administrator. “Individuals at highest risk for lead poisoning are those exposed to lead through occupational means or hobbies, fetuses and children up to 6 years old.”

Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the most hazardous sources of lead for children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. All houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. However, it is the deterioration of this paint that causes a problem. Get your home checked for lead hazards by finding a certified inspector or risk assessor at http://www2.epa.gov/lead.

Symptoms of lead poisoning vary depending on the blood lead level which is determined by a blood test.

“Young children, infants and fetuses absorb more lead than adults," said Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. “A small amount of lead that may have little effect on an adult can have a large effect on a child who is still growing and developing. If a child is overexposed to lead it can cause devastating consequences including the possibility of irreversible brain and nervous system damage.

"Even children who appear healthy can have lead poisoning. Pregnant women should also be especially cautious of lead exposure. The presence of lead dust can cause difficulties during pregnancy. Lead enters the bloodstream and can pass the placental barrier from the mother to the unborn child. If you, your child, or other family members are at risk please take the time to contact your physician.”

Low levels of exposure to lead can cause memory and concentration problems, muscle and joint pain, and can affect nervous system function. High levels of lead exposure have been associated with nerve disorders, digestive problems and in extreme cases, death. However, it is important to remember that many individuals show no outward signs of lead poisoning. An individual may have an elevated blood lead level even if they appear healthy and show no signs of lead poisoning.

Thankfully exposure to lead can be prevented. Follow these tips to be healthy from the start:

  • Make sure children do not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint;
  • Children and pregnant women should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation; They should not participate in activities that disturb old paint or in cleaning up paint debris after work is completed;
  • Create barriers between living/play areas and lead sources; Until environmental clean-up is completed, you should clean and isolate all sources of lead; Close and lock doors to keep children away from chipping or peeling paint on walls; You can also apply temporary barriers such as contact paper or duct tape, to cover holes in walls or to block children’s access to other sources of lead;
  • Regularly wash children’s hands and toys; Hands and toys can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil; Both are known lead sources.
  • Regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window components; Because household dust is a major source of lead, you should wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces every two to three weeks; Windowsills and wells can contain high levels of leaded dust and should be kept clean; If possible, windows should be shut to prevent abrasion of painted surfaces or opened from the top;
  • Take off shoes when entering the house to prevent bringing lead-contaminated soil in from outside;
  • Prevent children from playing in bare soil; if possible, provide them with sandboxes; Plant grass on areas of bare soil or cover the soil with grass seed, mulch, or wood chips, if possible; Until the bare soil is covered, move play areas away from bare soil and away from the sides of the house; If you have a sandbox, cover the box when not in use to prevent cats from using it as a litter box; That will help protect children from exposure to animal waste.

Visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website to see product recalls related to lead and other hazards: http://www.cpsc.gov/

For information about how to prevent lead poisoning or health department services contact,

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