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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Get the lead out! Learn how at free New Haven event

NEW HAVEN >> The New Haven Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Health will team up with the Yale Lead and Healthy Homes Program to hold their 15th Annual Lead Awareness Picnic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 14 at the carousel building at Lighthouse Point Park, according to a release.

The free event aims to "educate local families about childhood lead poisoning prevention through educational booths, giveaways and entertainment that parents and children of all ages can enjoy," the release said.

"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 illness," said Paul Kowalski, director of the city Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Health Program, also in the release. "This annual event, in combination with numerous efforts year-round, has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of childhood lead cases in New Haven over the years. However, the importance of bringing these numbers down even further cannot be overstated."

Representatives of the Health Department, Yale Lead and Healthy Homes Program, other service agencies and local entertainers, including a magician and a science show, will be on hand to demonstrate lead safety practices to participants through educational materials and interactive shows, the release said.

In addition to the lead poisoning prevention tips, there will be food, entertainment and games, the release said.

"Parents and children who are educated on possible lead hazards are more likely to take steps towards preventing lead poisoning in their homes and communities," said Kowalski. "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 their 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," according to the release.

"Lead poisoning prevention is particularly significant in New Haven, where health care providers reported that 107 children still tested positive for elevated blood lead levels in New Haven in 2014, said Kowalski. "Lead poisoning can cause developmental delays, behavioral problems, neuropsychological deficits and at very high levels, seizures, coma and even death."

"Children living in homes built before 1978 are at risk for exposure to lead through deteriorated paint, dust and from soil that has been contaminated with lead from old paint, and past emissions of leaded gasoline," the release said. "Children often appear healthy, while dangerously high blood lead levels rob them of their learning potential and cause irreversible neurological damage. The majority of New Haven’s lead poisoning cases are concentrated in the Fair Haven, Hill, Dixwell and Newhallville neighborhoods where the affected children live predominantly in rental housing units."

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