Lead is a naturally occurring heavy metal that has been used widely throughout history. In the US, lead was used in paint until 1978, gasoline until 1996 and has been found in old plumbing. It can also be found in soil, especially around old buildings. Lead has been more recently found in imported cosmetics, spices and toys. Lead is toxic and can cause serious health issues especially in young children and pregnant women if they ingest or breathe it in. Children less than 6 years old are the most at risk for health effects from lead exposure due to the rapidly growing and developing bodies, and because they are more likely to place objects that have been contaminated by lead in their mouths.
What are the symptoms of lead exposure?
Often lead exposure does not cause symptoms right away, unless the level is very high. There is no safe level of lead!
Over time, lead can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, slow growth and development, hearing and speech problems, and learning and behavior problems. This can result in difficulty paying attention in school and low IQ. If you are concerned your child is not meeting their age appropriate milestones, you can enroll in the Child Find Program.
Where can lead be found?
- Lead dust from chipping or peeling paint is the most common exposure in Wyoming County
- Water contaminated by lead plumbing, used in homes built before 1985
- Jobs and Hobbies
- Jewelry, Pottery and Antiques
- Imported foods, medicine, cosmetics and toys – keep up with Consumer Product Safety for active recalls
Lead Poisoning Prevention:
- Handwashing can eliminate lead dust on fingers and is important especially before eating
- Keep children and their toys away from deteriorating paint
- Feeding a nutritious diet with foods rich in calcium, vitamin C and iron
Get your child tested – In New York State, all children ages 1 and 2 must be tested for lead. Check with your child’s medical provider to make sure they have been tested. You can request your child be tested at any age if you think they have been exposed to lead.
If your child does not have a medical provider and needs to be tested, the Wyoming County Health Department can provide your child with a finger stick lead test. Call 585-786-8890 for more information.
If your child has a blood level that is 5 or above, the Wyoming County Health Department, as required by the New York State Health Department, will call you. A nurse will provide education on how to reduce lead exposure and coordinate follow up testing with your child’s medical provider. Additionally staff will visit your home to help you determine where the lead exposure is coming from and a plan to fix any hazards that are identified. Lead poisoning is 100% preventable and the Wyoming County Health Department is here to help!