Each year approximately 300,000 children across the United States are identified as lead poisoned. Last year in Westchester County, close to 900 children under the age of six were identified with high levels of lead in their blood. In observance of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, from October 23-29, the Westchester County Department of Health reminds residents that children between the ages of six months and six years should be screened for lead poisoning.
“Although childhood lead poisoning can cause serious health problems, including affecting the developing brain, children who are lead poisoned usually show no early symptoms,” stated Westchester Health Commissioner Dr. Joshua Lipsman. “The only way to know if a child has been exposed to lead is by having a blood test done by the child’s medical provider.”
Due to the concern of potential health consequences and developmental delays from lead poisoning, New York State Public Health Law has mandated that children between the ages of six months and six years be screened for lead poisoning. In addition, New York State Public Health Law mandates blood lead testing for all children at the ages of one and two years old.
Since the majority of Westchester County housing was built before 1978, eighty percent of Westchester County’s housing contains lead-based paint, which is the most common source of lead exposure for children. Chipped and peeling paint allows dust and paint chips to settle on toys, windowsills and floors. Children can easily inhale the lead dust or consume the paint chips.
Children can also be exposed to lead through various ethnic and folk remedies. Products found to have elevated lead content include arzacon, greta, Ayurvedic medications and various imported foods and candies from Asia and Latin America.
For more information on preventing lead poisoning, please contact the Westchester County Department of Health at (914) 813-5000 or visit www.westchestergov.com/health.