While Rockland County is filled with many big, beautiful and modern new homes, health officials say that local children are still at risk of lead poisoning because of the many aging houses and apartment buildings spread throughout the county that are contaminated by lead-based paint.
In hopes of cutting the risks to children, the Rockland Health Department is participating in a a national public awareness effort that is designed to encourage Rocklanders to take steps to protect their children.
Oct. 24 to 30 is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and the Health Department has issued new warnings that Rocklanders should be aware of the risks of lead exposure through lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in buildings constructed before 1978.
"The only way to tell if a child has lead poisoning is with a blood lead test," said Dr. Joan H. Facelle, MD, MPH, Rockland County's Health commissioner. Facelle said it is essential for parents to have their children tested if they suspect their home may have a lead problem.
As part of the campaign, Rockland County's Lead Poisoning Prevention coordinator is distributing information to local paint, hardware and home improvement stores for professional contractors and do-it-yourselfers. The program is also distributing posters and packets of information to Head Start programs in Spring Valley, Haverstraw, Nyack, New Square and the Nyack Center.
Here are tips from the Health Department on coping with the problem of lead contamination:
- Get your home tested. Before you buy an older home, ask for a lead inspection.
- If you are planning to renovate, remodel or paint an older home, hire a contractor trained to work safely in homes that contain lead.
- Get your child tested. Even if your young children seem healthy, ask your doctor to test them for lead.
- Get the facts about lead poisoning. Contact the Health Department at 845-364-2501 or visit http://www.co.rockland.ny.us/health/CH/LeadPoisoning.htm.