This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. This annual campaign is a call to action for individuals, organizations, state and local officials to bring awareness to lead poisoning prevention and reduce childhood exposure. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates anywhere between 6 to 10 million homes still have water that passes through lead pipes.
Children six years old or younger are at considerable risk of long-term damage if exposed to lead. Even from low levels of exposure, children can experience behavioral and learning issues, hearing problems, slowed growth, or even a decreased IQ level.
But lead doesn’t only affect children. If exposed to lead, pregnant women are at a higher risk for miscarriage, and it can cause damage to the baby’s brain, kidneys, or nervous system. Other adults can experience cardiovascular effects, increased blood pressure, decreased kidney function, and even reproductive issues.
So what can you do to reduce your risk of lead exposure?
The EPA recommends that all homes built before 1978 be inspected for potential lead hazards such as paint. If your home does in fact run the risk of having lead-based paint, be sure to regularly check for paint chipping or peeling, and wipe down window sills and floors weekly.
The Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) is an annual water quality report required by the EPA. You can contact your water utility company for a copy of your latest report, or click here. If your water comes from a private supply such as a well, check your local health department for information on contaminants in your area.
The EPA recommends using cold water for drinking, cooking, or making baby formula as boiling water does not remove lead from water, as it does other contaminants or bacterias. Using a certified filtration system is another way to reduce your risk of lead exposure. Finally, test your water.
More information on at home lead testing and the National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week campaign can be found here.