Michigan Participates in National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

Contact: Jennifer Smith 517-241-2112

For Immediate Release: October 23, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), along with CDC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is participating in National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 19-25, 2014. The purpose of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is to raise awareness around childhood lead poisoning and ways families can help keep their children safe.

Childhood lead exposure and lead poisoning remain a serious problem in Michigan. The primary source of lead exposure is from older homes that contain lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust. In 2013, over 5,700 young children in Michigan were identified with elevated blood lead levels that may cause significant damage to their health, according to the MDCH Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

“Lead can enter the body through the mouth or nose, and because children often put their hands or toys in their mouths, it is important to wash their hands, bottles and toys very often,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive with the MDCH. “When you know what to look for and the steps to take to protect your home, lead poisoning is entirely preventable.”

Some children might also be exposed to lead from contaminated drinking water, take-home exposures from a workplace, lead in soil and imported spices and cookware. Just a few particles of dust from lead-based paint are enough to poison a child. And the effects could last a lifetime.

Parents can help to 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. If your home was built before 1978, test your home for lead-based paint and learn about potential lead hazards.
  • Get your child tested, even if they seem healthy. Ask your health care provider to test them for lead at age one and two:
    • if your child is insured by Medicaid
    • if your home was built before 1978, or if you’re not sure of its age
    • if your family has recently immigrated to this country
    • if your child was adopted from a foreign country.
  • Home improvements that involve scraping, sanding or otherwise disturbing old paint can release toxic lead dust.   If you’re planning home repairs, be sure to hire a contractor who is certified to remove lead hazards safely.
  • Avoid imported spices and cookware, as they may contain lead.

Your child’s health care provider or your local health department can provide you with helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning. For more information, visit the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program website at http://www.michigan.gov/lead or call 1-888-322-4453, or visit www.leadfreekids.org.