Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Get the lead out

Event will show you how

NEW HAVEN – The New Haven Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Health and the Yale-New Haven Lead Program will hold the 10th Annual Lead Awareness Picnic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 13 in the Carousel Building at Lighthouse Point Park.
The free community event is intended to educate local families about childhood lead poisoning prevention through educational booths, giveaways and entertainment that parents and children of all ages can enjoy, organizers said in a statement.
“The Lead Awareness Picnic in New Haven is one of the city’s several efforts to help educate families about this serious yet entirely preventable condition,” Paul Kowalski, New Haven Health Department’s environmental health director, said in the statement. “We are excited to celebrate the 10th year of this annual event which — in combination with numerous efforts year-round -- has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of childhood lead cases in New Haven. However, the importance of bringing these numbers down even further cannot be overstated.”
Representatives from the Health Department, the Yale-New Haven Lead Program and Regional Treatment Center, and other service agencies will also join local entertainers, including a magician, performing bubble artist and clowns who will be on hand to demonstrate lead safety practices to participants through educational materials and interactive shows, the statement said. Representatives from the city also will be present to discuss the New Haven Lead Hazard Control Program, through which homeowners may receive funding to lead abate their properties, the statement said.
Forgivable loans, up to $12,000 per housing unit, are made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the statement said.
“Parents and children who are educated on possible lead threats are more likely to take steps towards preventing lead poisoning in their homes and communities,” Kowalski said, also in the statement. “While childhood lead poisoning has gained attention in recent years, many New Haven residents are still unaware of this problem.”
Families will learn how they can reduce children’s risk of ingesting lead through frequent hand washing, thorough housecleaning to remove lead dust and lead-safe home improvement practices. Health and environmental experts recommend that parents take the following precautions to prevent childhood lead poisoning:
“Lead poisoning prevention is particularly significant in New Haven, where health care providers reported that 194 children still tested positive for elevated blood lead levels in New Haven in 2009, 46 of whom had moderate to high levels [greater than or equal to 15 micrograms per deciliter of blood], Kowalski said in the statement. “Lead poisoning can cause developmental delays, behavioral problems, and at very high levels, seizures, coma and even death.”
For more information on lead poisoning prevention initiatives in New Haven, contact: New Haven Health Department, Bureau of Environmental Health, 203-946-8174

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