Lead is a highly toxic metal that may cause a range of health problems, especially in young children. When lead is swallowed or inhaled into the body, it can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs. Lead may also cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures and in extreme cases, death.
People can be exposed to lead through a variety of sources, including contaminated soil, food or water; imported toys, pottery or cosmetics; and paint used before 1978. Lower the chances of lead exposure by taking steps like wet cleaning and maintaining your home.
At low levels, symptoms of poisoning are often hard to detect, but may include loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue and abdominal discomfort. Long-term lead exposure can result in developmental delays, learning difficulties and behavioral issues, with permanent lifelong consequences.
In recent years, Oneida County has had one of the highest levels of childhood lead poisoning in New York State. Despite a state law requiring early childhood testing for lead exposure, a third of pre-school children in Herkimer and Oneida Counties have not had the required blood test. Although lead poisoning is preventable, lead continues to be a major cause of poisoning among children under age 6.
Adults can also get lead poisoning, especially through contact with lead in certain jobs or hobbies or when disturbing lead paint through renovation or remodeling activities. Lead can also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy.