Celebrating National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

By Jessica McFaul
Senior Advisor for the Office of Public Affairs

This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and here at EPA, we’ve made tremendous progress on our part to help prevent childhood exposure to lead, both indoors and out.

As a mom of three young children, I value EPA’s role in keeping America’s children safe and healthy. And as a mom who recently experienced a lead poisoning scare with my own toddler, the agency’s mission has never seemed more important.

This spring, I took my youngest child for what I thought was a routine one-year well check. Fortunately, this included a routine blood lead level (BLL) screening, revealing a level of concern exceeding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 5 micrograms per deciliter. In the weeks and months that followed, my husband and I learned as much as we could, testing our home and water and remediating the “hot spots.” Today, we’re back to a non-detectible BLL.

As scary as this was, knowing where to find credible information allowed us to act quickly to prevent any additional exposure and address the situation. EPA, the CDC, and the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry have loads of free information available online at https://www.epa.gov/lead, https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/default.htm, and https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=34&po=8.

Naturally, I gravitated to the things I could do immediately. Within a day, we identified the places in our home that most likely caused the exposure, thoroughly (and properly) wet cleaned the surrounding areas and toys, and selected foods for our daughter known to aid in lowering the BLL. Within a week, we added a fresh coat of paint to the areas of concern to encapsulate any remaining dust. These are all actions that anyone can take with very little out-of-pocket cost, whether you rent or own your home. We ultimately replaced four old windows, using EPA-certified lead abatement contractors (bonus: the new windows are energy efficient, saving us money).

Exposure can happen in many places, so if you have children, are pregnant, or are thinking of having children in the future, read up and take action now. Prevention is always the best medicine.

 

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