The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County observes National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW), October 23-29. This year’s NLPPW theme, “Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future,” underscores the importance of testing your home, testing your child, and learning how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects.
More than half a million children living in the United States have elevated blood lead levels that may cause significant damage to their health, estimates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The estimate is based on children with a blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter or higher using data from national surveys.
Major sources of lead exposure among Miami-Dade County children are lead-based paint, lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings, vinyl mini-blinds, toys or jewelry, and tile flooring. Children can also be exposed to lead from additional sources including contaminated drinking water, take-home exposures from a workplace, and lead in soil.
In 2015, 102 (51 were children 50%) cases of lead poisoning were reported to the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County.
“Lead poisoning can impair a child’s ability to learn and grow,” said Lillian Rivera, RN, MSN, PhD, Administrator/Health Officer of the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County. “Therefore, it is critical that we all work together to protect our children from exposure to lead.”
Despite the continued presence of lead in the environment, lead poisoning is entirely preventable. In observance of NLPPW and to increase awareness of childhood lead poisoning prevention, the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County is participating in lead-awareness community events, and educational campaigns. (Please see the attached schedule of events taking place in DOH-Miami-Dade County).
Parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead in many ways. Here are some simple things you can do to help protect your family:
• Get your Home Tested. Before you buy an older home, ask for a lead inspection.
• Get your Child Tested. Even if your young children seem healthy, ask your doctor to test them for lead.
• Make sure your child does not chew on anything covered with lead paint such as painted windowsills, cribs or playpens. Lead is sweet so children like its taste.
• Keep areas where children play as dust-free and clean as possible. Wet mop floors and wipe window ledges and surfaces such as cribs.
• Wash your child’s hands frequently especially after playing outdoors and before meals and bedtime. Wash pacifiers and bottles after they fall on the floor.
• Don’t remove lead paint yourself. Hire a person with special training to correct the problem.
• If you work with lead in your job or a hobby, change your clothes before you go home and wash them separately from your family’s clothing and wipe your feet well before going inside your home.
• Make sure your child eats lots of foods high in iron, vitamin C and calcium like eggs, meat, chicken, beans, cereals, citrus fruit, broccoli, strawberries, milk and milk products. A healthy diet causes the diet to absorb less lead.
• Get the Facts! The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County can provide you with helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning. Contact us at 305-470-5660 or www.dadehealth.org
Do your part by preventing children’s exposure to lead hazards among your family and your community. Together we can make lead poisoning history!
For more information, contact the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County, Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 305-470-5660.
About the Florida Department of Health
The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.