The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department is holding a public ribbon cutting ceremony to open the new Lead Education Station. Housed in the Southside Branch of the Chattanooga Public Library, the Lead Education Station will provide residents with a dedicated location to access resources about lead poisoning and prevention.
Marking National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, the event will take place Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. and will include educational booths by partner organizations, activities for children, and healthy snacks.
The Lead Education Station will provide both internet resources and some hard copies of information. The dedicated computer will feature a new lead poisoning and prevention website being created by the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension. A part time staff person will be available to assist patrons with the information. The Health Department is able to provide these resources through a grant from the Tennessee Department of Health.
“We are excited to bring this resource to the communities where it is needed the most,” said Health Department Lead Poisoning Prevention Program Manager Maranda Clark. “We hope the Lead Education Station leads to safer homes, safer children, and safer communities.”
Lead poisoning is silent but life-altering. Most kids do not show any outward signs of poisoning but the lack of symptoms does not mean that damage is not being done. The effects of lead poisoning occur slowly over time and can lead to:
Damage to the brain and nervous system
Slowed growth and development
Learning and behavior problems
Hearing and speech problems
This can cause:
Decreased ability to pay attention
Underperformance in school
Lead poisoning is considered to be the top environmental threat to children’s health. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, approximately 1 out of 11 children between the ages of 1 and 5 years may have harmful levels of lead in their blood. Blood testing is the only way to know the level.
A leading source of lead exposure in children is from older homes. In 1978, federal law banned lead-based paints. However, these paints persist in older homes where they crack, peel, and break down into dust, both inside and outside. Children become exposed when they put things into their mouths that are contaminated with paint chips, soil, or dust from inside the home or yard.
According to Hamilton County Assessor of Property records, 55 percent of the residential and rental structures in Hamilton County were built before 1978. The Environmental Protection Agency has recognized only certain home testing kits as being reliable. Removing lead improperly could actually increase the hazard to your family.
Other potential sources of lead poisoning could include old lead pipes in water supply, parents’ work places, toys, folk remedies, imported or old furniture, hobby supplies such as stained glass, lead crystal, lead glazed pottery or porcelain, or in the air. Oftentimes, it is difficult to isolate the source or sources.
The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program’s primary goals are to:
Monitor blood lead levels in children less than six years of age
Promote childhood lead blood screenings at ages 12 and 24 months
Follow up on children with elevated blood lead levels
Increase public awareness of the dangers of lead
Any child can be exposed to lead. Even children living in newer residences could be regularly exposed through sources outside the home. There is no safe level of lead exposure.
Any parent can request a free blood test from the Health Department for children under 7 years of age.
You can reduce the risks of lead poisoning by making sure your child eats a well-balanced diet. Knowing the facts about lead can help you prevent or reduce your child’s exposure.
These partner organizations provide reliable internet information about lead poisoning prevention and will represented at the ribbon cutting ceremony: Tennessee Department of Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention, University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and city of Chattanooga Lead Safe and Healthy Homes.
For more information, residents can visit the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program webpage, or call 209-8080.