SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to increase awareness and prevent lead poisoning in children, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich proclaimed this week Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week in Illinois.
“Lead poisoning can cause serious health and development problems in children, but it’s very preventable. We’re hoping, especially during this week, that people take a good look around their homes, daycare centers and schools for potential sources of lead poisoning, and eliminate them in order to protect our kids,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The major source of lead exposure among American children still remains lead-based paint, which was banned in 1978, and lead-contaminated dust found in the almost 1.1 million deteriorating housing units in Illinois.
“Parents need to be alert to possible lead poisoning hazards in the home such as lead-based paint and toys. When buying toys, parents should ask store owners if that toy contains lead. This step will not only help parents protect their kids from lead poisoning, but it will also help educate store owners about what they need to be asking of their retailers,” said Illinois Lead-Safe Housing Task Force Co-Chair Anita Weinberg.
Across the country approximately 310,000 children younger than six-years-old are poisoned by lead each year. In 2005, Illinois identified approximately 7,600 lead poisoned children for which the Illinois Department of Public Health provided case management for treatment and inspections.
“Lead poisoning can affect almost every system in the body, causing learning disabilities, shortened attention span, behavioral problems and in extreme cases, seizure, coma or even death,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Eric E. Whitaker. “This prevention week will help raise awareness for parents, teachers and childcare workers of the dangers of childhood lead poisoning and the ability to prevent it.”
In 1973, Illinois passed the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act to set mandatory screening and reporting requirements. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) administers the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program to monitor the identification and treatment of lead poisoned children. IDPH data shows a decline in the number of lead poisoned children younger than the age of six from 23.1 percent of children screened for lead in 1996, to just 3.7 percent in 2005. In other words, of the 250,000 children tested for lead poisoning in 1996, 57,750 tested positive, whereas only 7,600 of the 225,000 children tested for lead poisoning in 2005 tested positive.
Two years ago, Gov. Blagojevich created the Illinois Lead-Safe Housing Task Force, charged with developing recommendations to keep children safe from possible lead hazards in the home. House Bill 4853, which passed and went into effect this summer, was a result of the findings of the task force and increases lead inspections in homes where young children who test positive for lead poisoning live.
The Lead Poisoning Prevention Act now includes the following:
· The Illinois Department of Public Health must inspect the dwelling unit and commonplace areas of a building if a child of less than three years of age is found, through screenings, to have an above acceptable level of lead in their blood. If requested, IDPH must inspect the residence where children under the age of six reside or where a pregnant woman resides. A positive blood lead screening is 10 and greater micrograms per deciliter of blood.
· The definition of what a “lead bearing substance” is includes items coated with lead, and restricts the sale of items that have more than .06% lead levels, including clothing, jewelry, candy, and any items intended to be chewed by children.
· The Department of Healthcare and Family Services provides IDPH an electronic record of children less than seven years old that receive Medicaid, All Kids or other health care benefits. This record will be used to inform health care providers information on the number of children they care for who have been tested for lead poisoning.
· An owner who has received a mitigation notice must post the notice in common areas of the building with the identified lead hazards.
· A warning statement about the dangers of improperly removing paint must be posted where paint, sandpaper or other paint removal supplies that are for sale or rent are located.
IDPH will soon provide sample posters and brochures online that establishments may download and use.
The Governor’s proclamation reads as follows:
WHEREAS, approximately 310,000 children younger than the age of 6 are lead poisoned across the nation each year, and Illinois identified approximately 7,600 lead poisoned children in 2005; and
WHEREAS, Illinois passed the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act in 1973 to set mandatory screening and reporting requirements; and
WHEREAS, Illinois established the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program in the Illinois Department of Public Health to monitor the identification and treatment of lead poisoned children; and
WHEREAS, Illinois data indicates a decline in the number of lead poisoned children younger than the age of 6 from 23.1 percent in 1996 to 3.7 percent in 2005; and
WHEREAS, Illinois amended the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act in 2006, establishing new guidelines to further expand on lead poisoning prevention efforts in the state; and
WHEREAS, the major source of lead exposure among American children still remains lead-based paint banned in 1978 and lead-contaminated dust found in the nearly 1.1 million deteriorating housing units in Illinois; and
WHEREAS, lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body, causing learning disabilities, shortened attention span, behavioral problems and, in extreme instances, seizure, coma and even death; and
WHEREAS, lead poisoning can affect any family regardless of race, socioeconomic status and education, and is preventable; and
WHEREAS, Illinois is pleased to join with healthcare professionals, agencies and their delegates in observance of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, in an effort to increase awareness and promote prevention of lead poisoning in children:
THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim October 22-28, 2006 as CHILDHOOD LEAD POISONING PREVENTION WEEK in Illinois and encourage all citizens to recognize the prevalence of lead poisoning in our society and to join in working toward eradicating this unfortunate and preventable condition.