October 12, 2011

In observance of National Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, Lead Safe Columbus, a project sponsored by the Columbus Department of Public Health, is offering free lead dust testing kits during the month of October, to Georgia residents who live in older homes. To qualify for a free lead dust kit, the resident must live in pre-1978 housing. Test kits are available to qualifying homes while supplies last.

The lead paint dust kits are simple to use and come with all supplies and instructions needed to gather two samples; one from a floor and one from a window sill. Samples are mailed and analyzed at no cost and the results are sent to the resident. "The kit is a great tool for providing parents and caregivers with the knowledge necessary to keep their children lead safe," says Christy Kuriatnyk, Environmental Health Manager and founder of Lead Safe Columbus.

The chief source of childhood lead poisoning is invisible lead dust, which comes from decaying paint. Any home built before 1978—when lead-based paint was banned nationwide—may have lead dust. Columbus is above the state average for older housing. According to state health information, 69% of Columbus’ homes were built before 1978, compared to 30% in Georgia.

"Lead poisoning is a serious threat to families in Columbus. Throughout this state, communities like ours must use this opportunity to take stock of our homes, test our children, and understand this problem," says Dr. Beverley Townsend, Commissioner of Health for the Columbus Department of Public Health.

Townsend states that even a tiny amount of lead has long-lasting consequences for kids and babies. Lead-poisoned children face problems like hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and learning disability. Our community will not tolerate that.

More than one million American children are estimated to be at risk of elevated blood-lead levels, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Yet only a fraction of them are tested. In 2010, only 15% of all Columbus children were tested for lead.

"Childhood lead poisoning is an entirely preventable childhood disease. Parents can get all the information they need to monitor their children’s health with a simple blood test. Columbus families need to determine whether there’s lead in their homes. We have to act now to prevent the problem from becoming worse," states Dr. Townsend.

For more information about lead poisoning, or to receive a free lead dust test kit for homes built prior to 1978, contact Lead Safe Columbus, Columbus Department of Public Health, 2100 Comer Avenue, Columbus, GA 31902, (706)321-6170.