Lead Poisoning Cases Show Reduction

New data from the city’s Health Department shows that childhood lead poisoning fell by 15 percent last year, to the lowest level since record-keeping began, and that the safest place by percentage is in Queens - more than 17 percent safer on average.
The figures, released on Wednesday, July 2, show that in 2007, the number of new lead poisonings among children between 6 months and 6 years of age - 1,970 cases - was 90 percent lower than in 1995, when nearly 20,000 children were identified with a dangerous level of lead in their blood.
According to the tally, there were 441 new cases in Queens last year, down from 514 in 2006, a 14.3 percent decline.
The new cases in Queens last year represented slightly less than 22.4 percent of the total. Figures from the last census show that Queens has over 26 percent of the city’s population in the vulnerable age group.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn had the dubious distinction of leading the city in lead poisoning, with 839 cases in 2007, about 43 percent of the newly reported cases. The most-populous borough has slightly less than 34 percent of the at-risk age group.
The other boroughs also had lead poisoning percentages better than population share, although Manhattan’s numbers were nearly even.
Of the cases in Queens, most were said to be in the west and southwest parts of the borough, according to the report. Older, poorly maintained housing poses greater risk, it indicated.
“Lead paint is the primary cause of lead poisoning and young children are most at risk,” said Nancy Clark, Assistant Commissioner for Environmental Disease Prevention.
Clark advised parents to look out for peeling lead paint - particularly on doors and windows. “Tell your landlord to safely repair any damaged paint,” she said, adding, “Make sure your child is tested for lead poisoning at ages one and two.”
In New York City, landlords are required to fix peeling paint in homes where young children live. Clark advised that if the landlord does not respond, parents should call 3-1-1 to report the peeling paint.
She also made the following suggestions:
Remind your doctor to test your child for lead poisoning when they are one- and two-years old and ask about testing older children who may be at risk for lead exposure.
Wash floors, window sills, hands, toys and pacifiers often.
Don’t use imported foods, spices, medicines, clay pots, dishes, cosmetics or toys known to contain lead.
Don’t use hot tap water for drinking, cooking or making baby formula. Run the tap for a few minutes before using the water for consumption.
For more information about preventing childhood lead poisoning, call 3-1-1 or visit the Health Department’s web site at www.nyc.gov/health.

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