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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

'Don't Spread the Lead' events in New Haven: Learn about a silent issue that can hurt you

NEW HAVEN — The New Haven Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Health will team up with area businesses to hold the second of the 14th annual Don’t Spread Lead events on May 25, 2012 at Grand Paint & Floor Covering on Grand Avenue.
During the events, including one held at Painter’s Supply, on East Street, the venues “open their doors to childhood lead poisoning educators to provide resources for homeowners, contractors and parents,” according to a statement.
“This community event is just one part of New Haven’s Don’t Spread Lead Campaign – an effort designed to raise awareness about childhood lead poisoning prevention by educating the community about lead-safe renovation practices,” the statement said.
Paul Kowalski, New Haven Health Department’s Environmental health director, “will join other city health officials to provide lead poisoning prevention information to teach homeowners, contractors and parents how to reduce the risks of this serious, yet preventable illness.”
“The need for lead awareness and education within our communities cannot be overstated,” Kowalski said in the statement. “Children and parents who are informed about the threat of lead are more likely to take steps in their own homes to help prevent lead poisoning.  New Haven’s Don’t Spread Lead events are one of the city’s many efforts to help educate and protect our families.”
Children living in homes built before 1978 are at risk for exposure to lead through deteriorated paint, dust and soil that has been contaminated with lead from old paint and past emissions of leaded gasoline, the statement said,
“The majority of New Haven’s lead poisoning cases are concentrated in the Fair Haven, Hill, Newhallville and Dixwell neighborhoods where the afflicted children live predominantly in rental housing units,” the statement said.
“Over the past 10 years, largely due to a collaboration of concerned citizens, which includes parents, homeowners, health care providers, teachers and others, the number of New Haven children identified with lead poisoning has declined 65 percent; from 474 children reported in 2002 to 166 children in 2011,” Kowalski said in the statement. “Moreover, through New Haven’s HUD funded program, more than 1,117 homes have had lead removed from them.  However, there are still hundreds of homes in the area that are in need of lead-safe renovations.”The statement also noted: “There are no detectable symptoms for lead poisoning. Children often appear healthy, while dangerously high blood lead levels rob them of their learning potential and cause irreversible neurological damage. Lead poisoning can cause developmental delays, behavioral problems, and at very high levels, seizures, coma and even death.”
“Though we have seen an overall decline in lead poisoning cases in New Haven in recent years,” Kowalski said, also in the statement, “many New Haven residents are still unaware of this entirely preventable problem.  Although local efforts have resulted in a decrease in numbers, there were greater than 166 children reported with elevated blood lead levels greater than 10ug/dL in New Haven in the past year.”
Homeowners, contractors and families who attend the events “will be provided refreshments, coloring books with lead-safe tips, T-shirts and other educational materials that highlight lead issues and encourage lead prevention.  Lead inspectors will be on-site to answer individual questions,” the statement said.
For more information on lead poisoning prevention initiatives in New Haven, call the New Haven Health Department Bureau of Environmental Health at 203-946-8174
The event is been made possible with the assistance of the New England Lead Coordinating Committee, the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the statement said.

Editor's note: All information and photo in this post were contributed.



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