lead poisoningThe Department of Public Health announced plans to commemorate National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 19-25, with a week-long information campaign about childhood lead poisoning.  The campaign theme “Kids Learn Better Lead Free,” will educate families and community members about ways to prevent lead poisoning and the importance of testing children for lead, said Sara Hernandez-Singh of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

Lead poisoning can seriously affect a child’s brain and nervous system. It can cause learning and behavioral problems. A blood lead test is the only way to identify and confirm lead poisoning in children. “The purpose of this campaign is to remind parents that lead poisoning can be detrimental to young children’s health and development. It is important for parents to ask their child’s doctor about lead testing,” stated Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, Health Officer of the Department of Public Health.

In California, children can be exposed to lead by ingesting lead-contaminated dust, paint chips from deteriorating lead-based paint, and lead-contaminated soil. Other sources of lead poisoning include lead dust brought home on parents’ work clothes, certain imported ceramic pottery, and traditional home remedies among others. Imported candies or foods, especially from Mexico, containing chili or tamarind may contain lead. Additionally, activities that involve lead products such as soldering, making stained glass, and handling bullets or fishing sinkers can put children at risk.

All parents and caregivers of young children are invited to contact Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 1-800-722-3777 to learn about the upcoming education campaign and ways to protect their children from this silent and serious environmental disease.