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Get the lead out; Local groups target environmental hazard.

COLUMN: IN OUR OPINION

Few environmental hazards can have more serious, long-lasting effects on children than lead poisoning, and few are more easily remedied. Yet, each year lead poisoning diminishes the lives and human potential of hundreds of thousands of children nationwide, and it is in cities such as Worcester that the highest risk occurs.

Lead poisoning damages the kidneys, brain and nervous system, often causing learning disabilities or behavioral issues.

Often, simple awareness is the best prevention. That's why the Worcester Lead Action Collaborative, coordinated by the Regional Environmental Council, is spreading the word during Massachusetts Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, July 14-21. The kickoff event, a Lead Poisoning Prevention Fair, was held yesterday at South Worcester Park.

The collaborative has joined the city's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program in setting the goal of eliminating lead poisoning in children citywide by 2010.

A sense of urgency is warranted. In 2006, Worcester had 162 cases of children with elevated blood-lead levels and 20 cases of lead poisoning. Nationally, lead poisoning is the No. 1 environmental hazard for children.

The collaborative says the most frequent source of poisoning is the lead paint used in homes built before 1978. Mindful that 57 percent of Worcester's housing stock was built before 1950, the collaborative's emphasis this year is on testing homes for lead and preschool children for lead poisoning.

The collaborative's prevention program is commendable, indeed.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Worcester residents with children age 6 or under can get free testing through the lead program of the city's Health and Human Services Department (508) 799-8589. For general information or to find out whether your home has been tested for lead, call the state's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (800) 532-9571.
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Title Annotation:EDITORIAL
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jul 18, 2007
Words:287
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