Health Department urges residents to take action against lead poisoning with children
$1.3 million grant program for lead-based paint hazards expanded throughout Genesee, Orleans counties
Press Release, Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments
This week, October 25-31, is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, which is a time when families, community organizations, and local governments join efforts in the fight against lead poisoning in their communities.
Lead poisoning in children can lead to hyperactivity, reduced cognitive (thinking) ability, and other permanent, negative health effects. One of the goals of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) is to spread awareness of this public health issue and to increase lead poisoning prevention throughout our communities.
“Lead poisoning can be prevented!” said Paul Pettit, Public Health Director in Genesee and Orleans counties. “The key is to keep children from coming in contact with lead. Take time this week to learn about ways to reduce your child’s exposure to lead in their environment and prevent its serious health effects.”
This year, the Center for Disease Control has compiled three themes for National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week:
• Get the facts: Most childhood lead poisoning occurs when children swallow or inhale dust containing lead, often from lead-based paint which was commonly used throughout homes until 1978. Children ingest (eat) lead when they put their hands or other dust-covered objects, such as toys, in their mouth, eat paint chips or soil contaminated with lead, and inhale lead dust, particularly during home renovations or other paint disturbances.
• Get your home evaluated: Although the use of lead was banned from products such as paint since 1978, many homes in our communities still have remnants of old lead paint in them. Old, chipping paint, particularly around window sills, door frames, banisters and porches pose a serious health risk, especially in young children who tend to spend most of their time crawling or playing on the floor.
• Get your child tested: A blood test is the only way to discover if your child has been exposed to lead resulting in a detectable blood lead level. New York State requires that health care providers test all children for lead at age 1 and again at age 2.
Health care providers are required to ask parents/guardians about their child’s exposure to potential lead hazards up until 6 years old. If there is any suspected exposure in that time frame, another blood lead test may need to be administered.
In New York State, the goal is to have 80% of children tested for lead at these ages. Local data shows that the screening rates among children in Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties fell below the state goal in 2019. Lead testing and early detection can prevent long-term health problems for your child and their future. Make sure to talk to your child’s doctor about lead screening at their next appointment!
Funding may be available to help make your home lead safe. In January 2020, the Genesee County Health Department (on behalf of GO Health) received a $1.3 million federal HUD grant to address lead-based paint hazards in homes and rentals throughout the City of Batavia and the Village of Albion, including installation of replacement windows, paint, siding, and other home repairs. Specifically, the grant targets low-income households with children under the age of 6; this includes homeowners and landlords with low-income tenants.
Recently, Genesee County was able to revise the grant target area to include all areas within Genesee and Orleans counties, making potential grant funding available to qualified applicants throughout both counties.
“Lead hazards exist in older homes all over Genesee and Orleans counties,” said Darren Brodie, Lead Program Coordinator for Genesee and Orleans counties. “We want every eligible resident to have a chance to apply for these funds, and we’re prepared to help them through the process.”
For those who don’t know whether they qualify as low-income, as defined by HUD, the information can be found online or by contacting the Health Department directly. This target area expansion is expected to go into effect in November of 2020, and the Health Department is currently accepting applications county-wide for both Genesee and Orleans in anticipation of the expansion.
For more information on the GO Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program, National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, or for general information on lead hazards and the negative effects of lead poisoning, call the Genesee County Health Department at (585) 344-2580 x5507, or email health.GOlead@co.genesee.ny.us.
Lead hazards in the home won’t go away on their own. Lead poisoning prevention starts with YOU!