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Department’s Childhood Lead Program
Donna Heron, (215) 814-5113 & Joan Schafer, (215) 814-5143
PHILADELPHIA B The week of October 24-30 has been designated as National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is encouraging parents and property owners to help shut the door on lead by taking steps to protect children from lead hazards in the home.
“While the bad news is that childhood lead poisoning remains a major environmental health problem in the United States, the good news is that it is preventable. The two most important things parents can do is to have young children tested for lead and have homes tested for lead hazards,” said Donald S. Welsh, EPA mid-Atlantic regional administrator.
Today, EPA awarded a $447,100 grant to the Philadelphia Health Department=s childhood lead program to work directly with pregnant women and mothers with young children to test their homes for lead and teach them how to prevent lead poisoning.
For this program, the health department is teaming up with two non-profit organizations B the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations of Philadelphia, Inc. (known as CONCILIO) and the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition. This partnership will extend the program=s reach to Mexican, Central American, Indonesian, and West African immigrant populations in Philadelphia.
Many of the people who will benefit from this program live in old, lead-painted housing. Because of language barriers, many of these families may not be aware of the social and health services available to them. Through this program, caregivers will learn how to avoid potential indoor environmental health hazards and how to protect their children=s health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has identified lead poisoning as one of the most common toxicological hazards facing young children in the U.S. Most homes built before 1978 have paint with lead, and children living in these homes are at risk for ingesting or absorbing lead from paint dust, tap water, or the soil.
Caregivers in Philadelphia can go to any of the City of Philadelphia health centers for blood lead testing on a walk-in basis. Any parent can walk into a city health center and request a free blood lead test for their child who is six years or under. They don't have to be registered as a patient with the health center as their primary care provider. The Philadelphia=s health center=s general information number is 215-685-6790.
No matter where people live, or if they are a renter or a home-owner, EPA recommends that when they are renovating or remodeling their home, they hire a professional to remove lead- based paint. Painting, home improvement, and maintenance work in older homes can endanger children when not performed properly.
Contact the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD for information, including how to find certified professionals to test for lead. If you are a tenant, talk with your landlord about having your residence tested.
For additional information on lead exposure or regulations, go to: http://www.epa.gov/lead.