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This week the Massachusetts Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) is joining the CDC in celebrating National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2017.  Substantial gains have been made in preventing exposure to lead through more than 45 years of public health interventions.

Despite this, lead remains a significant health risk for children in Massachusetts.  Recent evidence suggests that for children there is no safe level of exposure to lead and that exposure to relatively low levels can result in irreversible health effects.  Young children are most often exposed to lead through ingestion of dust or soil that has been contaminated by loose or deteriorated lead paint. Lead paint is most often found on windows and exteriors, and can be disturbed by unsafe renovation work. Exposure can also occur from lead in water, or on consumer products such as toys or jewelry.

Massachusetts has the fourth oldest housing stock in the country, with approximately 71% of housing built before 1978 – the year lead was banned in residential paint.  Surveillance data collected by CLPPP show that lead exposure disproportionately impacts gateway and lower income communities with higher minority populations, making lead exposure a critical health equity issue.

On December 1, 2017, CLPPP will implement amended regulations that align with current scientific and medical knowledge concerning childhood lead poisoning, and include lowering the blood lead level in the regulatory definition of lead poisoning from ≥25 µg/dL to ≥10 µg/dL.    CLPPP’s regulations also create a new “Blood Lead Level of Concern” category for blood test results measuring between 5-9 µg/dL.  These changes address concerns associated with the emerging scientific understanding of the health impacts from low-level lead exposure and are consistent with the CDC recommendations for surveillance and intervention.

Learn more about the changes to the regulations.

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in the Bureau of Environmental Health

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