Thirteenth Annual Community Event at Lighthouse Park Brings Together Local Families, Organizations to Raise Awareness of Childhood Lead Poisoning
(NEW HAVEN, CT)– The New Haven Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Health is teaming up with the Yale Lead and Healthy Homes Program to host the 13th Annual Lead Awareness Picnic in the Lighthouse Park Carousel Building on Sunday, June 9th from 11:00AM to 3:00PM. This free community event aims to educate local families about childhood lead poisoning prevention through educational booths, giveaways and entertainment that parents and children of all ages can enjoy.
“The Lead Awareness Picnic in New Haven is one of the city’s several efforts to help educate families about this serious yet entirely preventable illness,” said Paul Kowalski, New Haven Health Department’s Environmental Health Director. “This annual event, in combination with numerous efforts year-round, have resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of childhood lead cases in New Haven over the years. However, the importance of bringing these numbers down even further cannot be overstated.”
Representatives from the City’s Health Department, the Yale Lead and Healthy Homes Program and other service agencies and local entertainers, including a magician and a science show, will be on hand to demonstrate lead safety practices to participants through educational materials and interactive shows. More than 500 New Haven residents, mostly children, are expected to be present to learn lead poisoning prevention tips while enjoying the food, entertainment and games.
“Parents and children who are educated on possible lead hazards are more likely to take steps towards preventing lead poisoning in their homes and communities,” said Kowalski. “While childhood lead poisoning has gained attention in recent years, many New Haven residents are still unaware of this problem.”
Families will learn how they can reduce their children's risk of ingesting lead through frequent hand washing, thorough housecleaning to remove lead dust and other lead-safe home improvement practices. Health and environmental experts recommend that parents take the following precautions to prevent childhood lead poisoning:
• Eliminate lead hazards safely.
• Wet mop paint dust and chips helps reduce the chances a child will ingest lead.
• Feed meals high in calcium, iron and low in fat to help "block" the body's absorption of lead.
• Wash children's hands thoroughly and frequently to prevent lead ingestion.
“Lead poisoning prevention is particularly significant in New Haven, where health care providers reported that 154 children still tested positive for elevated blood lead levels in New Haven in 2012, 50 of whom had moderate to high levels [greater than or equal to 15 micrograms per deciliter of blood], said Kowalski. “Lead poisoning can cause developmental delays, behavioral problems, neuropsychological deficits and at very high levels, seizures, coma and even death.”
Children living in homes built before 1978 are at risk for exposure to lead through deteriorated paint, dust and from soil that has been contaminated with lead from old paint, and past emissions of leaded gasoline. Children often appear healthy, while dangerously high blood lead levels rob them of their learning potential and can cause irreversible neurological damage. The majority of New Haven’s lead poisoning cases are concentrated in the Fair Haven, Hill, Dixwell and Newhallville neighborhoods where the affected children live predominantly in rental housing units.
Representatives from the City will also discuss the New Haven Lead Hazard Control Program, through which homeowners may receive funding to lead abate their properties. Forgivable loans, up to $9,000.00 per housing unit, are made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control.
The Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Health initiates lead safety awareness and education programs throughout the year, in addition to regular lead inspection and assessment duties. The Bureau’s lead inspectors speak to area children and their families about the importance of lead safety and present information at local health fairs. Also, efforts are pursued to educate the community on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP). The RRP rule requires that firms performing renovation, repair and painting projects, disturbing more than six square feet of lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools be certified by the EPA and that they use certified renovators who are trained by EPA approved providers to follow lead-safe work practices. In addition, the Bureau together with New Haven’s Livable City Initiative offers a program to financially assist homeowners to remove lead hazards.
If you would like additional information on lead poisoning prevention initiatives in New Haven, please contact:
New Haven Health Department
Bureau of Environmental Health
Yale Lead and Healthy Homes Program