LOUISVILLE — National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is Oct. 23-29, and Louisville organizations are urging residents and property owners to be aware of the potential dangers.
Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW), Lead Safe Louisville, the University of Louisville’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences, Metro United Way sent out a combined joint release on Wednesday addressing safety hazards and tips on how to prevent lead poisoning.
“Right now, when we look at our historic neighborhoods in Louisville, especially those in the northwestern corner, we see that paint is degrading and causing massive amounts of lead exposure,” said Nick Hart, assistant director of the Environmental Health Program at LMPHW. “In fact, there are children living in that region that are probably 10 times at greater risk of experiencing lead poisoning in their life.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no amount of lead that is safe for the body. Children under 6 years old are among the greatest risk of developing health issues from lead exposure, but pregnant individuals can also be affected by passing it on to their unborn child.
“Lead Safe Louisville’s mission is to remove lead paint from families’ homes so that children can live in a healthy environment,” said Gertjan Wijburg, housing program supervisor for Louisville Metro’s Office of Housing and Community Development. “The program is targeted at low-income families that live in pre-1978 homes and have children younger than 6 years old living in or frequently visiting the house. Pregnant women and landlords renting out to the target group also qualify."
According to the press release, about 3.3 million households with children under 6 have lead exposure hazards in the U.S. That includes 2.1 million low-income households. According to Louisville Metro data, between 2005 and 2021, nearly 10,000 children in Jefferson County tested positive for elevated blood-lead levels.
“Blood lead poisoning is one of the largest environmental justice violations that exist throughout the United States,” said Hart. “Lead can have terrible effects on human beings, especially young children. It’s a neurotoxin and having a child who is lead poisoned is the equivalent of experiencing traumatic brain injury.”
To prevent lead poisoning, the organizations gave these tips:
- Clean frequently with a wet mop or sponge to control dust
- Wash hands and toys often
- Look out for chipping paint inside and outside your home or apartment where kids might be exposed
- Wipe and remove shoes before entering the home
- Eat healthy meals because children will absorb less lead when they eat food that is low in fat and high in iron
- Check to see if Louisville Water has a record of a lead pipe on your property and learn how to request a free water quality test by visiting louisvillewater.com or calling 502-569-0897