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County Leaders Outline Lead Prevention Programs at Health Department

Binghamton, NY – – Broome County Executive Debbie Preston joined Broome County Legislators Ron Heebner and Karl Bernhardsen as well as members of the health department to outline three lead poisoning prevention programs in the County, while also urging parents to get their children tested for lead.

“We’ve heard so much about lead contamination in water in Binghamton and across the Country,” says Broome County Executive Debbie Preston.  “However, lead-based paint can also present a danger to your child in your own home, especially if it’s an older building.”

Due to the aging housing stock within Broome County, exposure to deteriorated lead-based paint presents a public health hazard.  Lead paint for residential use was banned in 1978, so houses constructed prior to that year likely have lead-based paint.  Lead-based paint is hazardous when it becomes deteriorated.

"As the former owner of a residential remodeling contracting business I know first hand that lead is a serious health hazard in our community," said Legislator Ron Heebner.  "I'm pleased to join County Executive Preston and the County Health Department staff to help get the word out about these important programs."

In 2015, there were 103 children in Broome County with elevated blood lead levels above the CDC reference value of 5 micrograms per deciliter of blood (mcg/dL) and of that, 34 children had blood lead levels above the action level of 10 mcg/dL. 

New York State Public Health Law requires testing for lead at age one and again at age two, but compliance with these testing requirements remains low.  Testing and screening rates for blood lead among children under six years of age by the primary care provider are also much lower than they should be.

“We urge parents to get their children blood lead tested at age one and again at age two, and anytime they feel that their child may have been exposed,” says Barbara West, Principal Public Health Sanitarian for Broome County. “Many parents may not think of lead as a danger to their child, but as statistics have shown, it is a problem in our community and we hope to raise awareness of the problem and reverse the trend.”

The Broome County Health Department also has a Lead Primary Prevention Program, which is proactive and seeks to prevent children from becoming lead-poisoned.  The program provides free lead inspections for the dwellings of children under the age of six and pregnant women.  The program works with property owners to create lead safe housing.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Grant Program is a funding source of $3.25 million to remediate lead-based paint hazards.  The program will remediate 147 dwelling units in Broome County by October 2018.  The program is currently accepting applications and is targeted to low-income homes where children under six and pregnant women live.

“I know that lead remediation can be expensive, but we have programs to help cover the costs,” says Preston.  “Making sure our children are safe is our top priority and we will work with you to make sure your home is lead-safe.”

If you have questions about lead, you can contact the Broome County Health Department or go online to gobroomecounty.com/eh/lead.

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04/13/2016 - 2:23pm