Look both ways before crossing the sidewalk. Don’t take candy from strangers. Don’t stick your finger in the light socket!
There’s a long list of things my parents told me to be afraid of when I was a kid, lead-based paint was never one of them. Maybe that’s why I was able to grow up without worrying about what was coating the swing set I played on and what kind of paint was on the walls in my room was because of the federal regulations and efforts made since the late 1970s to prevent children and adults from being affected by lead-based paint poisoning. It makes me sad to know that there are still so many children who are exposed to lead-based paint dangers in and near our homes. More than 1 million children are affected by lead poisoning today, and this is especially troublesome, in my opinion, because lead poisoning from lead based paint is 100 percent preventable.
We might not be able to make things better overnight and, as students and young adults, the scope of power to affect policy change may seem limited. Together though, we can help prevent lead-based paint poisoning. You’re probably asking how. You do not have to donate money or start a march for the cause. Use social media and other technology to spread the word. It’s at our fingertips. Just help by simply spreading the knowledge to your friends and family that lead in paint is still a problem in the US and that lead-based paint exposure can be prevented. Send an E-card on lead-safe practices or print out a poster and hang it in your room or at school. You can also find great prevention information and a neat web tool to help parents identify common danger zones for lead in older homes built before 1978. Check it out. Read about the facts and act on them.
Esther Kwon was an intern for the Lead, Heavy Metals & Inorganics Branch in the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics. She will be graduating in the spring of 2012 from Smith College.