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Local laws key to reducing dangers of lead poisoning
Date:5/6/2013

A new study appearing this week in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law catalogues community-based efforts to develop strategies and policies that by targeting high risk housing may hold the key to reducing lead hazards in children's homes.

"Lead poisoning has long been characterized as a health problem with a housing solution," said Katrina Korfmacher, Ph.D., director of the Community Outreach and Engagement Core of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Environmental Health Sciences Center and co-author of the study. "It is, therefore, critical that local communities where the ability to regulate private housing often resides understand the unique role that they can play in reducing exposure."

Lead is recognized as the most significant environmental hazard to children in the U.S. Federal laws most notably the banning of lead from gasoline in 1976 and paint in 1978 have been critical to reducing exposure to lead. While these and other federal and state actions have contributed to the rapid decline in the overall rates of childhood lead poisoning, rates remain high in some communities and are particularly pronounced in low income urban areas with older rental housing.

The majority of lead poisoning occurs by ingesting lead contained in dust, paint, and soil in and around homes built prior to the ban on lead paint. Children with elevated blood lead levels are more likely to reside in low income urban communities; studies have shown that while an estimated 19 percent of homes nationwide contain lead hazards, this number rises to 35 percent in homes of individuals below the federal poverty line. In Rochester, more than 86 percent of the housing stock was built prior to the federal ban on lead paint.

"Lead safety is largely a function of maintenance intact leaded paint is typically not hazardous unless it is disturbed and released into the environment," said Michael Hanley with the Em
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Contact: Mark Michaud
mark_michaud@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-4790
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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