Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus and City of Poughkeepsie Mayor John C. Tkazyik today announced a new county-city partnership initiative to help prevent childhood lead poisoning. The new Lead Primary Prevention program will target the City of Poughkeepsie homes in the 12601 zip code, which the New York State Department of Health has identified as the zip code with the highest annual incidence of Elevated Blood Lead Level (EBLL) in Dutchess County.
“Why wait until a child tests positive for lead poisoning? This program helps to protect children now,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “Through this County-City collaboration, we can pro-actively identify and correct lead paint hazards in high risk housing, and help ensure children who are the greatest risk for lead poisoning are screened.”
The Dutchess County Department of Health actively sought and was awarded more than $165,000 through a New York State Lead Primary Prevention Pilot Grant. Those funds will used in a collaborative effort with City of Poughkeepsie to focus on dangerous lead levels in the City’s high risk neighborhoods.
Lead, a heavy metal once widely used in paints, gasoline, and other products, is known to be toxic in very small quantities. Lead poisoning can result in anemia, kidney damage and reproductive problems in adults. However, children are far more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults, and the harmful impacts are far more serious for children. Environmental lead exposures can cause nervous system disorders, lowered IQ’s, impaired memory and reaction times, and shortened attention spans. A child exposed to lead may develop headaches, muscle and joint pain, tiredness, behavioral problems or irritability, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and nausea or vomiting. Most children with elevated blood lead levels do not have any symptoms.
Homes built before 1978 may contain lead paint or household plumbing made with lead materials. According to City of Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik more than 70% of housing in the City of Poughkeepsie was built before 1970, so the potential for lead exposure is high. “Lead poisoning is a serious health risk, therefore we are very pleased to be moving forward with this cooperative partnership with the County to ensure the safety and health of our City’s families.”
As part of the Lead Primary Prevention program, the County in partnership with the City of Poughkeepsie will carry out the following activities in areas with the highest lead poisoning rates to protect children and pregnant women from the toxic effects of lead based paint and lead dust:
- Raise awareness through homeowner mailings and community outreach about this serious preventable health issue and emphasize the importance of ensuring that children have a blood lead test at ages one and again at age two, or at any time exposure is suspected.
- Informational mailing targeted to households in the 12601 zip code.
- Outreach to local housing agencies and community based organizations.
- Assist homeowners and landlords in identifying homes and/or rental units that are at ‘high risk’ for contributing to lead poisoning.
- Children living in homes identified as at risk for lead who are less than six years of age and have not yet received lead screenings will be referred their primary care provider and County Public Health Nurses for follow up.
- Provide homeowners and landlords in the ‘high risk’ area with free Lead Safe Work Practices Training.
- Once homeowners or tenants complete the Lead Safe Work Practices training, they will receive free cleaning kits to assist them in maintaining low lead dust levels in their homes.
“Identifying and correcting lead based paint hazards is a key component of the New York State Strategic Planning to eliminate Childhood Lead Poisoning by 2010, and is an essential step in preventing childhood lead poisoning,” said Dr. Michael C. Caldwell, MD MPH, Dutchess County Commissioner of Health. “This coordinated county-city initiative allows us to target the areas of greatest risk and build community awareness about the importance of lead safe homes,” he added.
“The danger of childhood lead poisoning prevention cannot be ignored and we are very pleased to work with both the City of Poughkeepsie and our other community partners to make sure residents are taking the necessary steps to keep their children and families safe,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.
The Lead Primary Prevention Program is the latest step in the County’s ongoing Childhood Lead Prevention Program. Other innovative approaches used by the Dutchess County Department of Health to combat childhood lead poisoning include outreach efforts based on Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping. The addresses of children with elevated blood levels are entered into the GIS software to produce a map showing the neighborhoods where lead poisoning has occurred. The addresses encompassed by the mapping are then targeted for educational outreach to parents of young children to have their children tested for lead. The County’s public health nurses are also available to provide individual case management and follow-up to children with elevated blood lead levels.
County Executive Steinhaus has forwarded the resolution accept the grant funding for Lead Primary Prevention program the Dutchess County Legislature for approval at the May board meeting.
To learn about the Lead Primary Prevention program, call the Dutchess County Department of Health at (845) 486-3404 or visit www.dutchessny.gov, and click on the “Wipe Out Lead” button.