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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498

Date: October 18, 2012


Exposure to lead can cause serious health problems, including permanent, irreversible brain damage to children. To increase awareness of childhood lead poisoning prevention, the Delaware Division of Public Health's (DPH) Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will celebrate National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week in Delaware, Oct. 21-27.

According to the CDC, nearly half a million children living in the United States have elevated blood lead levels that may cause significant damage to their health. In 2011, DPH's Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program identified a total of 440 children in Delaware with blood lead levels above the CDC's reference value of 5 ug/dL. Major sources of lead exposure to U.S. children include lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in deteriorating buildings. Children can also be exposed to lead from contaminated drinking water, take-home exposures from a workplace, and lead in soil.

"Delaware requires all children to be tested at 12 months of age to prevent health effects from exposure to lead during early development," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director. "This year's Lead Week theme, 'Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future,' emphasizes the importance of testing your home, testing your child, and learning how to prevent lead poisoning's serious health effects."

While lead paint has not been used in homes since 1978, nearly 50 percent of the homes in Delaware were built prior to 1979. And some of the most common exposures today have little to do with paint. Exposures also can come from take-home dust from a parent's work, toys and other improperly manufactured products, and exposure via activities such as hunting and fishing.

Despite the continued presence of lead in the environment, lead poisoning is entirely preventable. Lead poisoning can cause permanent, irreversible harm to a child, including brain damage, hearing problems, kidney damage, and even stunted growth. In most cases, lead poisoning has no symptoms and cannot be detected without a lead test.

In observance of the week, DPH is working with its partners to offer two free testing and awareness events in Delaware including:

"Thanks to our partnership with HUD, DPH and the City of Wilmington, the Latin American Community Center has provided lead-based paint hazard reductions to families since 2001," said Maria Matos, LACC executive director. "Since then, our teams have reduced dangerous lead-based paint hazards from hundreds of homes in the City of Wilmington. Currently the De-Lead Wilmington program has nearly 100 families enrolled and still accepting applications for enrollment. The LACC is proud to be a part of ensuring the safety, health and learning potential of Wilmington's children by helping to prevent lead poisoning."

To lower your child's risk of getting lead poisoning, the Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program reminds Delaware residents to take these steps to protect their children:

If your organization is interested in hosting a lead-testing day, call 302-283-7300. For more information on lead poisoning, call 211 or visit the improved Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention webpage with updated and expanded information sections at:

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.