Accomac, Va – This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. From the World Health Organization’s website: “Lead poisoning is preventable, yet based on 2016 data available worldwide, lead exposure still accounted for 540,000 deaths and 13.9 million years lost to disability and death due to long-term health effects. Of particular concern is the role of lead exposure in the development of intellectual disability in children. “
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) note “there are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated.” The rates of childhood lead poisoning on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for children less than 72 months of age in 2016 reinforces the need for local vigilance as well. In 2016 the average rate in Virginia was 65 cases per 50,000 children under 72 months of age, while the rate on the Eastern Shore was 518 cases per 50,000 children under 72 months of age.
The Eastern Shore Health District and the Virginia Department of Health are committed to the prevention of childhood lead poisoning. Through partnership with our local healthcare providers on the Eastern Shore, many childhood lead poisoning cases are reported and investigated before symptoms appear. Possible sources of lead in the child’s environment are identified and exposure to those sources are reduced if not eliminated through parent and caregiver education.
Of particular concern on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is the presence of lead paint in older housing. Homes built prior to 1978 may have lead-based paint on walls, doors, windows, and sills. The primary source of exposure to children is through the dust from deteriorating lead-based paint. Certified lead workers should always be used for renovation, repairs, and/or painting older homes. Other potential sources of lead can be:
- Toy jewelry
- Fishing weights or lures
- Bullets, buckshot, and musket balls
- Imported or antique toys with painted surfaces
- Some Mexican candies
- Water from old plumbing
- Vinyl mini-blinds made before 1997
- Handcrafted or foreign-made ceramic dishes may contain lead that can get into food or drink
To learn more about the prevention of Lead Poisoning, please visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/leadsafe/.