The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named the week of October 18-24 to be Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.
Spokesperson Donna Heron says the agency uses this week as a way to draw attention to the serious and ongoing problem of lead poisoning.
She says it is the number one environmental health threat to young children in the U.S., specifically 6 and younger.
Heron says the reason young children are mostly affected by lead poisoning is because they tend to put things in their mouths. She says houses built before 1978 were made with lead paint, which chips and generates dust. The paint and dust can get on a child’s clothing, toys, etc, which can then get into the child’s mouth.
She says the health effects for children exposed to lead are really significant and can include learning disabilities, hyper-activity, impaired hearing, and brain damage.
Heron says there are a number of ways parents can try to prevent this problem. First, she says they should keep their houses very clean. They should be mopping floors, washing windows and walls, and using warm water with a general all-purpose cleaner. Also, she says parents should always be sure that their child is constantly washing their hands. Another important thing is good nutrition. Heron says children should be taking in lots of iron, calcium, and vitamin C, from foods such as eggs, lean red meat, beans and dairy products. She says foods like these help prevent lead from really affecting the body.
Heron says parents should have their child checked because even a child who appears to be completely healthy can have higher blood levels than normal.
For more information visit www.epa.gov/lead