NUMBER OF CHILDREN REPORTED POISONED CONTINUES DECADE LONG DECREASE; LEAD POISONING PREVENTION INITIATIVES AND OVERSIGHT WORKING ROCHESTER, N.Y.
The Monroe County Department of Public Health’s most recent data on testing children for elevated blood lead levels (EBLL) indicates that Monroe County and the City of Rochester are making significant progress in the campaign to end childhood lead poisoning. The encouraging statistics regarding testing data for children under the age of six shows that the number of children diagnosed with EBLLs above 10μg/dL (micrograms per deciliter) has decreased from 900 in 2004 to 139 in 2014. Although no amount of lead in the body is normal, blood lead levels of 5-9μg/dL or higher are now considered ‘elevated’.
Two years ago, the Monroe County Department of Public Health began tracking elevated blood lead levels between 5-9μg/dL. In 2014, 470 children were reported with elevated blood lead levels between 5-9μg/dL making a total of 609 children in Monroe County considered “lead poisoned.”
“The effort to eradicate lead poisoning in our community has truly been a collaborative effort and we have made enormous progress,” said Dr. Jeremy Cushman, Interim Commissioner of Health, Monroe County Department of Public Health. “Since 2004, we have reduced the number of children reported with lead poisoning by 85 percent.” Cushman continued, “While we are very proud of this achievement, there is still work ahead of us. We must continue to develop and implement innovative methods to protect all children from this preventable health risk.”
“Our community is a role model for demonstrating unity in the fight against lead poisoning,” said Mayor Lovely A. Warren. “The unparalleled cooperation between the City, the County Health Department, the University of Rochester, the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning, community agencies, and property owners over the past ten years has spared more than 5,600 children from the terrible effects of this public health hazard. These efforts are creating safer and more vibrant neighborhoods, more jobs and better educational opportunities for our children.
While we cannot rest until we have completely eradicated lead poisoning in Rochester, we are moving in a right direction.” “We have made great progress over the past ten years since the implementation of the Rochester’s Lead Law in 2005, however we still have a lot of work to do to finish the job,” stated Mel Callan, a family nurse practitioner at Highland Family Medicine and co-chair of the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning. Callan continued, “In the past year, 609 Rochester area children had unacceptably high blood lead levels—enough to fill more than 30 kindergarten classrooms. Children are particularly susceptible to the irreversible and devastating effects of lead poisoning. We must raise the awareness of families to get their homes tested for lead hazards and get their children tested at ages one and again at two to avoid any possible developmental damage.”
The Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning wants to remind everyone that lead poisoning, although completely preventable, can inflict permanent damage to the most vulnerable members of the community—our children. Information on getting your home and children tested for lead hazards, how to get EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) certified in accordance with federal law, and to request FREE educational materials in multiple languages can be found at the Coalition web site www.letsmakeleadhistory.org or by calling (585) 224-3125.