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Dutchess County Health Dept Reports Lead Poisoning Effects Can Include Brain Damage

Lead remains an environmental health issue for children under the age of six. Children's hand to mouth activities increases their opportunities to breathe or ingest lead from the environment. Lead products are used in a variety of hobbies, such as solder in stained glass. Any remodeling or renovations of homes built before 1978 poses a danger of lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can cause serious disability, but because there are generally no symptoms children with elevated levels of lead may not appear sick.

New York State requires that all children be tested for lead at ages one and two. It is also recommended that pregnant women ask their health care providers about the test for lead. Children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from brain and nervous system damage, behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing loss and headaches. Lead poisoning can affect anyone, but is particularly dangerous to young children, babies and unborn children. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that one in every 25 children is affected by exposure to lead hazards. Lead was used in interior and exterior house paint,

Homes built before 1978 may also contain lead paint, and household plumbing that is made with lead materials continue to be a hazard,” said Tara Fitzpatrick, PHN, Lead Program Coordinator of the Dutchess County Department of Health. “Ordinary dust and dirt may contain lead. Children can swallow lead or breathe lead- contaminated dust if they play in dust or dirt, then put their fingers or toys in their mouths, or eat without washing their hands first,” she said.

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