Last week, I attended an event held by Cooper Square and Lead Dust Free NYC (LDFNYC) devoted to creating awareness of lead poisoning prevention in New York City. Lead poisoning is a completely preventable, but irreversible condition that impacts children for a lifetime. Even children with the lowest detectable blood lead levels may develop permanent brain damage and lifelong behavioral problems.
I was joined by NY State Assembly Health Chair Dick Gottfried, NY State Senator Brad Hoylman, and NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson. The effects of lead poisoning include struggling in school, having trouble paying attention, memory problems, lack of self-control, underperforming at work as an adult, lower lifetime earnings, and trouble with the law. Children can be exposed to lead through paint and dust from inside the home, and children under six years old are most at risk.
Lead hazards are commonly found in housing built before 1978. If you think your home might have a lead hazard, contact your landlord right away. Landlords are legally required to safely address lead paint hazards. If you need additional assistance, call 311.
In-home lead hazards include: Peeling or chipping paint, dust from opening and closing doors, dust from opening and closing windows, tap water, dust and debris from renovations, and household items including spices, jewelry, cosmetics, and ceramics.
Children who have been lead poisoned may not have any visible symptoms.
Your child may not look or feel sick even if he or she has been lead poisoned. The only way to know for sure is to get a blood test. New York State law requires doctors to provide blood lead testing during regular check-ups at ages one and two and to pregnant women during their first prenatal care visit.
You can help protect your child from lead poisoning by keeping children away from peeling paint and renovation work, washing floors and windowsills often, running your tap water for at least 30 seconds before using, using only cold tap water for baby formula, cooking, or drinking, washing children’s hands and toys frequently, and removing shoes before entering your home.