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Cayuga County highlights importance of lead poisoning prevention

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  • Staff Report 

The Cayuga County Health Department is emphasizing the significance of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, slated for Oct. 22 to 28 this year. This initiative mobilizes individuals, various organizations, and governments at multiple levels to enhance awareness of lead poisoning prevention and its consequences on children.

Historically, lead was a common component in household paint because it enhanced the paint’s durability, vibrancy, and drying time. However, due to its severe health risks, particularly to children, the U.S. government prohibited the use of most lead-based paints in 1978. In Cayuga County, a staggering 75% of homes were constructed before this ban, indicating a potential presence of lead-based paint in many residences.

Cayuga County highlights importance of lead poisoning prevention

For residents uncertain about the age of their homes, the Cayuga County Real Property Services website offers an online database to ascertain this information. For homeowners, the details are typically available in title records. If a home was erected before 1978 and showcases deteriorating paint, it poses a significant lead hazard. As lead-based paint decays, the ensuing chips and dust become health threats. Children are particularly vulnerable, as ingestion of lead dust through hand-to-mouth activities can result in lead poisoning.

Children below the age of 6 are at heightened risk due to their developing physiological systems. Lead absorption can induce severe health issues, ranging from organ damage to behavioral abnormalities and, in extreme instances, fatalities. Symptoms often encompass fatigue, headaches, and irritability. However, many afflicted children may not exhibit noticeable early symptoms. The state of New York mandates lead blood tests for children at ages 1 and 2, with specific circumstances warranting additional tests.

Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. Residents can avail themselves of the Cayuga County Health Department’s initiative, aimed at creating lead-safe homes. The department offers complimentary home lead risk assessments for eligible individuals, providing guidance on lead mitigation and exposure prevention.

For those interested in a free assessment or seeking more details on lead, the Cayuga County Health Department can be reached at (315) 253-1560 or through their website. Comprehensive information on lead is also accessible at