The last week of every October, National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The initiative has been taking place since 1999, and each year, the week is given a theme related to lead poisoning prevention. For 2015, National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week will take place October 25 – 31, and the theme is "Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future,” focusing on the importance of limiting children’s exposure to lead and getting them tested for lead poisoning at an early age.

Lead Poisoning Effects

Exposure to lead early in life can result in a host of issues with long-term effects. Kids under the age of six are at the highest risk for developmental issues because their bodies are still rapidly growing. Lead can harm the brain and nervous system, culminating in problems with hearing, speech, learning, and behavior. These developmental setbacks can cause a lower IQ, poor scholastic performance, and difficulty paying attention.

While this week’s initiative centers on children, be aware that lead poisoning can have hazardous effects on adults as well. Some of the risks associated with lead exposure for adults are fertility problems, high blood pressure, digestive issues, nerve disorders, problems with memory and concentration, and pain in joints and muscles. Pregnant women should also avoid exposure to lead prior to and during pregnancy to prevent endangering the developing fetus.

Testing for Lead Poisoning

Detecting lead poisoning early is as easy as a blood test, and it is highly recommended to get your child tested as early as age one or two. The sooner you recognize an issue, the quicker it can be remedied. Time is of the essence with lead poisoning in young children because of how detrimental it can be to their development, so catch problems early, and take the necessary precautions to shield your kids from continued exposure to lead.

Lead Poisoning Prevention

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There are several steps you can take to help prevent lead contamination in your home. Before beginning any remodeling or construction projects, have your home evaluated for lead, and hire an EPA Lead-Safe Certified Firm to perform any work that may disturb lead paint or dust. Homes constructed prior to 1978 are more likely to contain lead paint, but any home can contain lead for a variety of reasons, so make sure yours is safe. For more information on lead poisoning prevention, visit and also check out sources of lead in the home.

While Lead Poisoning Prevention Week may only take place once a year, lead poisoning is a topic you should be cognizant of year-round. You should use this week as an opportunity to get educated and to protect yourself and your family from the harmful effects of lead exposure.

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Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; US Environmental Protection Agency; World Health Organization.