By Eden Laikin
Nassau County has nearly $4 million to spend on removing dangerous lead paint hazards from people’s homes, yet few residents have asked for the help.
As part of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is looking to use the federal grant to make residences safer.
He is increasing efforts to get the lead out, by getting the word out.
Eligible residents, who suspect there may be high levels of lead in the home, can have their homes tested for free and, if necessary, have dangerous lead removed.
“If your home was built before 1978, you may have a silent danger in your home and your children could be negatively affected,” Mangano said. “Get your home tested. Get your child tested. Get the facts.”
Nassau County Department of Health officials said lead poisoning is one of the most preventable childhood health problems. The major source of lead exposure among U.S. children is lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings.
The Lead Hazard Reduction Grant is being administered by the County’s Departments of Health and Community Development. The federally funded project, based on a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), would remove dangerous lead paint from homes in under-served areas where young children live.
Lead paint is most often found on windows, trim, doors, railing, columns, porches and outside walls. Surfaces that have been repainted may have layers of lead paint underneath. A lead inspection can tell you where lead paint is located on your property.
A child can get lead poisoning by swallowing or breathing in lead or lead dust. Even small amounts of lead can harm a child’s developing nervous system and may cause problems with a child’s growth, behavior, and ability to learn. The only way to know if a child has lead poisoning is to get a blood lead test.
In 2009, the Nassau County Department of Health received 32,943 blood lead test reports and nearly 1% had elevated blood levels. Three of the children had very severe lead poisoning and needed to be hospitalized for special treatment.
Last week, Nassau officials sent a letter to all County school districts to bring awareness to the serious risk from lead paint and to ask for help in finding property owners to participate in the grant program.
“We are making every effort to ensure that every child lives in a lead-safe home,” Mangano said. “Getting homes tested for lead is an important step toward ensuring our children grow up healthy.”
Over the summer, project contractors removed dangerous lead from a house in Freeport. The County hopes to test, clean up and make lead-free about 170 more houses and rental units – with nearly 340 children under the age of 6.
For more information on the County lead hazard removal program, please call (516) 572.1915. For information about preventing childhood lead poisoning, call the Department of Health at (516) 227.9665.