"Preventing Lead Poisoning"

Picture this: You live in a gorgeous older row home in Washington D. C. Although it’s a “fixer upper”, you bought it for its unmatched Victorian charm and its unbeatable location (Who doesn’t want to live next to a cupcake shop?). You finally decide it’s time to remodel the kid’s room and update the kitchen, but your spidey-sense is going off because you know that renovating a pre-1978 homes with lead paint can have risks. What’s the next step?

  • Do a search on the internet about EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rule
  • Look for a contractor, but make sure to ask them if they are EPA Lead-Safe Certified
  • Check with your pediatrician about testing your children for lead

The answer is: All of the above — And don’t forget to share what you learn on your neighborhood list serve!

Learning about Lead-Safe renovations is one of the many actions you can take to prevent lead poisoning during Lead Poisoning Prevention Week this October 24-30, 2010.

This year for Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, consider taking concrete steps to make a difference (or tell a neighbor):

  1. Get Your Home Tested. Ask for a lead inspection if you live in home built before 1978.
  2. Get Your Child Tested. Ask your doctor to test your young children for lead even if they seem healthy.
  3. Get the Facts. Read more information about preventing childhood lead poisoning

Tell us, what are you doing to spread the word or learn more about Lead Poisoning Prevention.

About the author: Christina Wadlington joined EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics in July 2008 and works in the National Program Chemicals Division.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Veterans, Visitors, And More!

My late grandfather was always full of advice and giving out tips. Whenever he visited, he always came with newspaper clippings and all sorts of articles from magazines. He had all sorts of information for everyone and would talk with each of us grandchildren or children about the information he found. He also would constantly remind me to tell people to spell my last name correctly. Even if it was ordering a pizza and giving your last name. No place was left out of hearing the spelling of our, somewhat lengthy, surname. Make sure you tell them two n’s, not one, he would say. He has made me so very proud of my family’s history. I learned a lot from his words of wisdom, more than I could type out in this blog. I always think about him, especially this time of year, when my grandparents would come and visit us in the fall. I also remember him around November because he was a World War II veteran. As Veteran’s Day quickly approaches, I thought I might provide some reminders of my own, to grandparents, parents, or any veteran out there with little ones. Here are some tips to keep in mind when kids come over to visit and stay with you, some things that you may not even think about normally, but may be important when you have younger company coming over.

  • Make sure to wash children’s hands before they eat and also wash fruits and vegetables.
  • In older homes particularly, make sure to wash floors and window sills to protect kids from dust and peeling paint that could be contaminated with lead.
  • Store pesticides and toxic chemicals far out of reach where children can’t get to them; try to put them in a locked cabinet or area first.
  • Make sure you close any container marked ‘child resistant’ very tightly after the product has been used. Child resistant does not mean child proof so you should still be careful with products with child-resistant packaging.
  • Store food and trash in closed containers to prevent pests from coming inside.
  • Don’t let children handle or play with mercury. (Find out where mercury containing product recycling programs are in your area.)
  • Hide medical prescriptions in a locked up location or a secure place so children can not reach them or mistake them for candy.

So as visitors start to pile in, especially children, take a moment to look over these tips and apply them around your home. Also, take some time to remember all of the veterans out there and all that they have given while serving our country.

About the author: Emily Bruckmann is an intern at the Office of Children’s Health Protection. She is a senior attending Indiana University who will graduate with a degree in public health this spring.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Science Wednesday: Learning to Keep Children Healthy

As parents, we all want what’s best for our children and like to see them grow healthy. I have taught my daughters to wash their hands, eat nutritious meals, wear protective equipment when practicing sports, and to wear sun block. Now that they are teenagers, I talk to them about the dangers of smoking, drinking and drugs, and of course…boys. However, working for the EPA has given me an increased awareness about another set of dangers—environmental exposures.

In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on protecting children from environmental contaminants and learning how the differences in behavior and physiology affect their exposures. I remember as a child playing with mercury, pouring it on the floor and pushing the silver blobs around with my fingers to form a bigger blob. We didn’t know it was bad for us, and neither did our parents.

Since then, the potential health effects from exposure to mercury and other toxic chemicals such as lead, arsenic, and pesticides have become the focus of environmental policies. We have also learned that diet is an important route of exposure to pesticides and other substances in the environment.

But, why are children a concern and how are their exposures different from those of adults?

Children’s organ systems are still developing and they may be more susceptible to environmental exposures. Their behavior and habits can also put children at higher risks. We have learned that contaminants can be deposited in toys and objects that children put in their mouth. Contaminants can also find their way into the milk of lactating mothers. Another example: on average, children younger than one year old inhale approximately six times the amount of air by body weight than an adult.

I love that my job helps me learn about keeping my kids healthy. But, even if you don’t work here, EPA has developed lots of useful information to share. Our Children’s Health Protection web site is a great place to start if you are looking for generalized information. One source I’ve been involved with, the Highlights for the Child-Specific Exposure Factors Handbook, provides risk assessors, economists, and others a wealth of data and EPA recommendations on exposure factors needed to estimate childhood exposure to toxic contaminants.

image of author sitting at deskAbout the author: Jacqueline Moya is a chemical engineer with EPA’s Office of Research and Development. She has been with EPA for 25 years. Her work focuses on increasing our understanding about exposure to susceptible populations.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Science Wednesday: Aprendiendo a Mantener a los Niños Saludables

Como padres, todos queremos lo que es mejor para nuestros hijos y nos gusta verlos crecer sanos. Le he enseñado a mis hijas a lavarse las manos, comer comidas nutritivas, usar equipo protector cuando practican deportes y a usar protector solar. Ahora que son adolescentes, les hablo sobre los peligros del fumar, beber y usar drogas y claro… de los varones. Sin embargo, trabajando para la EPA me ha dado una mayor conciencia acerca de otros peligros — exposiciones a contaminantes ambientales.

En los últimos años, ha habido un mayor énfasis en la protección de los niños contra los riesgos a la exposición a contaminantes ambientales y aprender cómo las diferencias de comportamiento y la fisiología afectan a esos riesgos. Recuerdo cuando era niña jugaba con mercurio, lo vertía sobre el suelo y con mis dedos empujaba las pequeñas bolitas plateadas hasta formar bolitas más grandes. Ni nuestros padres ni nosotros sabíamos que era malo para la salud.

Desde entonces, los posibles efectos en la salud debido a la exposición al mercurio y otros productos químicos tóxicos como el plomo, arsénico y pesticidas, han impulsado las políticas ambientales. Hemos aprendido que la dieta es una ruta importante de exposición a pesticidas y otras sustancias en el medio ambiente.

Pero, ¿por qué son los niños una preocupación y cómo se diferencian de los adultos? Los sistemas del organismo de los niños están en desarrollo y pueden ser más susceptibles a la exposición a compuestos ambientales. El comportamiento de los niños y sus hábitos también pueden ponerlos a mayores riesgo de exposición. Hemos aprendido que los contaminantes pueden ser depositados en los juguetes y objetos que los niños llevan a su boca. Los contaminantes también pueden ser encontrados en la leche de madres lactantes. Otro ejemplo: en promedio, los niños menores de uno año inhalan aproximadamente seis veces la cantidad de aire por el peso corporal que un adulto.

Me encanta que mi trabajo me ayuda a aprender acerca de mantener a mis hijos sanos. Pero si no trabaja aqui, EPA ha desarrollado mucha información útil que comparte con el público en general. Nuestra página cibernética para la Protección de la Salud de los Niños es un buen sitio para comenzar si quiere buscar información en general. Una fuente de información en la que he estado envuelta es el informe titulado Highlights for the Child-Specific Exposure Factors Handbook, que provee a los analistas de riesgo, economistas, y otros con información sobre factores de exposición necesarios para estimar la exposición de los niños a los contaminantes tóxicos.

image of author sitting at deskSobre el autor: Jacqueline Moya es una ingeniera química con la Oficina de Investigación y Desarrollo. Ha trabajado en EPA por 25 años. Su trabajo se concentra en aumentar nuestro entendimiento sobre la exposición en las poblaciones susceptibles.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

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 views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

An “Aha” Moment – Just a Little Too Late

I’m a mom of four kids living in a house built in 1948 that was way too small for us until we expanded it three years ago. That’s around the time I became involved in outreach on lead poisoning prevention, and drafting outreach materials on EPA’s new rule requiring contractors who renovate pre-1978 housing and schools to be trained in lead-safe work practices and certified by EPA or a state (the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule).

We decided to stay in our house during construction – who has the money to rent a place and pay for the big renovation? Not us! At the time, I teased my contractor, Erik, about the upcoming requirements for renovators. He just laughed and lamented more money he’d have to pay the government. Then he put up big plywood sheets to block the rooms off and to keep dust out. But the plywood didn’t keep the dust out – it was everywhere. At the time, I thought, the new rule says to use plastic sheeting and tape off the rooms to keep dust out. But I didn’t say anything; all I was concerned about was how much longer we’d have to all live cramped in three rooms. I told myself, well, Jack is 10 and the triplets are 7, so their brains are pretty much already developed. But who knows how much exposure they have experienced because of the renovation. Recent studies show that renovation and repair activities are a major source of lead poisoning – from the dust!

Now that I’ve been steeped in the rule and working to get the word out to contractors to get lead-safe trained and certified, I realize that I should have insisted that my own contractor get himself educated about lead. It’s kind of an after-the-fact “aha moment” that leaves you with a real regret. The developmental effects of lead are real and they are irreversible – behavior problems, IQ deficiencies, learning deficits; scary stuff!

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 18-24, 2009. Take this opportunity to ask your plumber, electrician, repairman, or renovation contractor five words: Do you work lead-safe? If they stare back at you blankly, point them to our website. I recently found out that Erik is doing another renovation in the neighborhood. I’m going to work on him!

About the author: Sheila Canavan has more than 24 years of federal service, and has worked at EPA for 14 years. She coordinates web content and communications materials on OPPT’s efforts to address lead, mercury, PCBs and asbestos.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Question of the Week: What do you do to protect your children from lead poisoning?

Childhood lead poisoning is a major environmental health problem in the United States. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, nervous system damage, kidney damage, and decreased intelligence.  National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 18-24.

What do you do to protect your children from lead poisoning?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.