Lead Poison Prevention

Asking the Right Questions to Prevent Lead Poisoning in Children

Recently, I took my youngest to the pediatrician for her yearly physical. I was very happy to be able to answer “no” to all the screening questions regarding possible exposures to lead. Why is lead a problem?

Well, even if your child does not show symptoms of lead poisoning, exposure to lead can definitely have long-term adverse effects on your child’s health. That’s why asking the right questions is important in lead poisoning prevention.

For example, I’m lucky to have a pediatrician that regularly asks parents to fill a questionnaire to identify possible exposures to lead. But, how many families are unaware of the risks of lead exposures? How many doctors have not received the proper environmental health training to look for warning signs among their young patients? Furthermore, the problems can be compounded if there are language barriers between these patients and their physicians.

On that note, several months ago, I asked one of my nieces who is in medical school about her studies. I was interested in what she was learning about environmental health issues such as asthma, lead poisoning, mercury, and others. Bottom line, it seems that our young med students just don’t receive enough training in environmental health. So, if that’s the case with doctors, what are we to expect from the general public that might be unaware of the link between our health and the environment?

As we’re celebrating National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, let’s increase awareness of the potential lead poisoning. While most of the focus is related to reducing the risk of lead based paints found in homes build before 1978, our children may also have some non-traditional routes of exposure due to their behavior or for cultural reasons which might put them at a greater risk. Have you resorted to folk remedies such as greta, azarcón, ghasard, bali goli, to treat ailments stomach ailments or colic? Has your child eaten candy or foods canned outside the United States? Do you cook foods in imported or glazed pottery?

If you have reasons to believe that your child might be at risk of lead poisoning, contact your health care provider to find out whether to perform a blood test for lead. This test is the only way you can tell if your child has an elevated lead level. Asking the right questions can help prevent lead poisoning in our children.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Going Down the Road Less Traveled in EPA – Lead Outreach in a New Form

As member of the EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics outreach team (the part that focuses on lead poisoning prevention), I was faced with the task of trying to identify new forms of communication to reach the general public about Lead Poisoning Prevention. My solution: Launch a Video Contest!

Sounds easy? You be the judge! Here are some of my lessons learned when launching a video contest.

  • Ensure you have web-know-how support. Without my two fantastic interns; Mary and Micheal, I would have never be able to navigate YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • When filming a video on the National Mall remember — wind, sun, and happy tourist conversation can all affect video quality (see video below!!).
  • Be prepared to be called at the last minute to appear on camera regardless of your experience. Being a biologist, like myself, does not prepare you in any way to read a script, look at a camera and talk slowly. (Trust me, I tried and I realized I am no Lisa Ling).
  • Government outreach — or any outreach — is no longer just about conferences, documents, and presentations. Think of new ideas and you never know how many people you may reach and what you might accomplish.
[flv]http://www.epa.gov/greenversations/media/20090828blahblah/mikeandmaryCrop.flv[/flv]

Mary, Mike and I hope that this contest will help EPA motivate those who are interested in furthering the message about Lead Poisoning Prevention. We look forward to your entries and are eager to see whose names will be on the winners’ checks in October!

About the author: Christina Wadlington joined EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics in July 2008 and works on Lead and Mercury outreach and policy. After calling many places home from traveling with the Marine Corps, she settled in the Washington, DC area while attending Georgetown University, where she studied the learning behaviors of Monarch butterflies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.