Lead poisoning rates in New York highest in US, officials push funding for prevention

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ALBANY, NY (WWTI) – Public health officials, lawmakers and health advocates across New York are calling for increased funding for lead poison prevention.

This is specifically to support a 2019 law to create better protection for children from lead poisoning.

According to the New York State County Health Officials Association, the law lowered the blood lead level needed to trigger public health interventions from 10 to 5 micrograms per deciliter.

According to data from 2017-2018, as many as 17,000 children under the age of six in New York State have elevated blood lead levels, exceeding the levels recorded in all other states in the country.

High blood lead levels in children can cause many short- and long-term effects. It can range from anemia, nausea, hair loss, confusion, muscle weakness, permanent brain damage, and kidney and bone marrow damage.

Long-term exposure to lead can also be fatal.

County health officials said the estimated cost of implementing the 2019 law was $40 million per year, however, the state provided $9.7 million, which left a difference of $30.3 million. Officials said the discrepancy created a “significant impediment to the effective implementation of the law.”

“The 2019 law of lowering actionable blood lead levels in children was sound public health policy that we strongly supported. However, it has become extremely difficult for local health departments to implement given the significant lack of state funding needed for full implementation,” NYSACHO President Dr. Indu Gupta said in a statement. A press release.

“Furthermore, we support the recent CDC recommendation to lower the workable blood level from 5.0 micrograms/dl to 3.5 micrograms/dl, to protect the health of our children, which will require additional resources for the public health work. Therefore, we call on Heads of State to provide the support we need to ensure that our work to protect children exposed to lead can be fully engaged and supported,” Gupta added.

A comprehensive public health investment titled “PREPARE Act” includes a $30.3 million appeal to support activities to prevent lead poisoning in children.

This is detailed on the New York State Association of County Health Officials website.

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