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October 14, 2010

Lead Free Kids for a Healthy Future

Get your home tested

Get your child tested

Get the facts

Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

In recognition of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW), October 24-30, the Nassau County Department of Health reminds residents that lead poisoning is one of the most preventable childhood health problems. The major source of lead exposure among U.S. children is lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings.

New Nassau County Program

The NCDOH is pleased to announce that it has joined with the Office of Community Development in a Lead Hazard Reduction Grant.  This $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will allow the county to fund environmental assessments AND Lead hazard removal for homes with identified lead hazards whereas prior to this grant, the county was only able to fund environmental assessments.   Homeowners will need to meet certain income requirements to qualify.  For more information on this program, please call (516) 572.1915.

Sources of Lead

Lead paint is found in homes built before 1978. Even if your home has been repainted, repeated rubbing of one painted surface against another (such as opening and closing windows) could expose old, lead-based paint in your home. Worn, cracked or peeling lead-based paint may cause lead poisoning, especially in children. Additional sources of lead include various imported goods, such as toys, Mexican candy, cosmetics, foods, spices, herbal remedies, and children’s jewelry. Lead has also been found in Mexican, Indian, and Middle Eastern pottery, painted china, leaded glass, crystal and pewter.  These should not be used to serve or store food.  High levels have also been found in some Ayurvedic medicines, kohl, surma, greta and azarcon. 

Lead Levels

A child can get lead poisoning by swallowing or breathing in lead or lead dust.  Even small amounts of lead can harm a child's developing nervous system and may result in behavior problems, learning disorders, poor school performance, lower I.Q., hearing loss, anemia, kidney damage or growth retardation. The only way to know if a child has lead poisoning is to get a blood lead test. 

New York State law states that children must be tested for lead exposure at ages one and two years and assessed annually until age six by their health care providers. Additionally, children entering day care or nursery school must show proof of having had a blood lead test.

There is no “safe” level of lead in the blood - blood lead levels should be near zero.  In 2009, the Nassau County Department of Health received 32,943 blood lead test reports and nearly 1% were elevated blood levels ≥ 10 ug/dl (micrograms per deciliter of blood).  Three of our children had very severe lead poisoning and needed to be hospitalized for special treatment.

What Can You Do?

Here are some simple ways to reduce your child’s exposure to lead:

  1. Get your home tested.  Before you buy an older home, ask for a lead inspection
  2. Get your child tested.  Even if your young children seem healthy, ask your doctor to test them for lead.
  3. Get the facts! The Department of Health can provide you with helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning. Contact us at (516) 227.9665.

Nassau County Department of Health

The Department of Health provides case management services to parents of all children with elevated blood lead levels and inspects their homes to identify the cause of the lead poisoning.   For information and literature on lead testing and on reducing lead hazards from soil, dust, water, food and other sources, call the Nassau County Department of Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (516) 227.9665 or visit the Nassau County Department of Health Website at or the NYS Department of Health at or a joint website by the Ad Council, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning at