Miami-Dade County Observes National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

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The Miami-Dade County Health Department observes National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 19-25. Every year, approximately 310,000 children across the United States are lead poisoned. In 2006, 38,476 children, under the age of six, were screened for lead poisoning in Miami-Dade County. Last year, 180 cases of lead poisoning were reported to the Miami-Dade County Health Department.

Overall, the number of children with elevated blood lead levels is declining in Florida and nationwide. However, based on data collected by the program, not all at-risk children have been screened. This may indicate an underestimation of the number of lead poisoned children in Florida.

To eliminate lead poisoning the Miami-Dade County Health Department will be participating in a series of events during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 19-25. Events include informational sessions on prevention efforts in the Miami-Dade County area. The activities will begin on Monday, October 20th at 9:00 AM. Please see attached schedule for times and locations.

"Lead poisoning can impair a child's ability to learn and grow," said Lillian Rivera, RN, MSN, PhD, Administrator of the Miami-Dade County Health Department. "Therefore, it is critical that we all work together to protect our children from exposure to lead."

The most common way children are lead poisoned is from exposure to lead paint, which is commonly found in homes built before 1978. Disturbing the lead paint allows dust to settle on toys, windowsills and floors. Children can then easily swallow bits of dust and paint chips.

Children may also be exposed to lead through home health remedies (e.g., azarcon and greta) and imported candies.

Lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body and can impair a child's ability to learn and grow. Lead poisoning often occurs with no obvious symptoms. The only way to test for lead poisoning is by asking your health care provider for a blood lead test.

The Miami-Dade County Health Department Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (M-DCHD CLPPP) offers information about the childhood lead poisoning prevention efforts in your area. The health officials recommend the following preventive measures:

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* Make sure your child does not chew on anything covered with lead paint such as painted windowsills, cribs or playpens. Lead is sweet so children like its taste.

* Keep areas where children play as dust-free and clean as possible. Wet mop floors and wipe window ledges and surfaces such as cribs.

* Encourage your child to play in sand or grassy areas instead of dirt which sticks to their fingers and toys. Try to keep you child from eating dirt.

* Wash your child's hands frequently especially after playing outdoors and before meals and bedtime. Wash pacifiers and bottles after they fall on the floor.

* Don't remove lead paint yourself. Hire a person with special training to correct the problem.

* If you work with lead in your job or a hobby, change your clothes before you go home and wash them separately from your family's clothing and wipe your feet well before going inside your home.

* Don't store food or liquid in imported or old pottery or lead crystal glassware.

* Make sure your child eats lots of foods high in iron or calcium like eggs, meat, chicken, beans, cereals and milk products. A healthy diet causes the diet to absorb less lead.

Do your part by preventing children's exposure to lead hazards among your family and your community. Together we can make lead poisoning history!

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