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It’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week – Why Does it Still Matter?

2013 October 22
Jim Jones


October 22, 2013
12:52 pm EDT

Lead Poisoning Prevention

The use of lead in residential paints and lead in gasoline was banned in the 1970’s, so why do we keep talking about the problem of lead in paint?

The fact is that lead in paint is still in homes built before 1978. It’s still there in millions of homes, sometimes under layers of newer paint. It’s still a hazard in deteriorating lead-based paint (peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking, damaged or damp paint, or in paint dust) and needs immediate attention.

Also, every time I look around, we are finding out more about how subtle and damaging the effects of lead can be. Even low-level lead exposure at a young age can result in a range of irreversible and untreatable lifelong health and developmental issues, such as lowered IQ, shortened attention span, and behavioral issues. Children suffering from lead poisoning or exposure can have diminished opportunities and well-being, burdening both families and societies.

The World Health Organization reports that the total economic costs in terms of medical care and diminished opportunity worldwide amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Despite significant and many years of sustained efforts by EPA and others, childhood lead poisoning continues to compromise the health of children around the world.

This week, October 20-26, EPA along with our Federal partners, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are joining the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint to announce the first International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action. This year’s theme is Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future, and we are advocating for testing your child and your home for lead and knowing how to prevent serious health effects.

More than 35 countries will take action and hold public awareness events this week. EPA has translated some materials into Spanish, French, Russian, and Chinese and is providing modifiable materials for outreach campaigns and events to be used in the U.S. and across the globe.

We hope raising awareness about protecting children from the harmful exposure to lead will have a long-term, overwhelmingly positive effect on the health of children worldwide.

We’ve made significant progress after years of sustained efforts by EPA and others. But there’s still more to do.  Childhood lead poisoning is entirely preventable.  Please take a few minutes to learn more about efforts in this country and activities around the world by visiting U.S. National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.

Jim Jones is the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. He is responsible for managing the office which implements the nation’s pesticide, toxic chemical, and pollution prevention laws. Jim’s career with EPA spans more than 26 years. He has an M.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a B.A. from the University of Maryland, both in Economics.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

One Response leave one →
  1. wiseman permalink
    October 29, 2013

    According to the Center for Disease Control in 1999 5.0% of children less than 72 months old had confirmed elevated levels of lead in their blood. As of 2011 that number had dropped to about 0.5%. Much of the credit for this significant leap must go to public awareness campaigns like National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.

    Continuing to educate people about the dangers of lead and detection and removal methods should be a priority for government agencies like the EPA and HUD. I am glad to see that these initiatives have started to take on a global reach with parternships like the one with the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint. Informing as many people as possible is, in my opinion, the best way to mitigate the risks associated with exposure to lead.

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