‘Lead Poisoning Prevention Week’ wraps today
As Lead Poisoning Prevention Week draws to a close, Nevada County Public Health has been spreading the word on this year’s national theme: “Healthy homes, food and play areas protect children from lead,” which underscores the importance of focusing on the many ways parents can reduce children’s exposure to lead. Lead poisoning can seriously affect a child’s brain and nervous system and can cause permanent learning and behavioral problems. It is especially dangerous for a child under the age of 6 due to a child’s rapidly growing and developing body, which can absorb more lead.
In California, children can be exposed to lead by ingesting lead-contaminated dust, paint chips from lead-based paint, and lead-contaminated soil. Other sources of lead include lead dust brought home on parents’ work clothes, certain imported ceramic pottery, painted objects, traditional home remedies, and imported spices and food products. Additionally, activities that involve lead products such as soldering, making stained glass, and handling bullets or fishing sinkers put children at risk.
Parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead in many ways. First, limit exposure from lead paint in homes built before 1978 or from soil containing lead from gasoline residue by wiping clean or taking off shoes before entering the home and washing children’s hands and toys often. If lead-based paint is on any surface inside or outside of the home, wet mop and wash surfaces often. When painting or remodeling, always follow these “lead-safe” work practices: use plastic sheeting on the ground and furniture while working, wet surfaces before sanding and scraping, and wet mop the area with an all-purpose cleaner at the end of the day.
Second, talk to your child’s doctor about testing for lead. Children who receive services from Medi-Cal are eligible for free testing. Private health insurance plans also usually pay for the test.
Lastly, good nutrition helps children’s bodies resist lead poisoning. Serve three meals and two healthy snacks to children each day including calcium, such as milk, cheese, plain yogurt and tofu; iron, such as lean meats, beans, iron-fortified cereals and grains, nuts and seeds, and dark green vegetables; and vitamin C, such as fresh, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables.
For more information, contact Nevada County Public Health’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 530-265-1460 or 530-265-7018.
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