Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lead Poisoning Cases Decline

N.Y. / Region

Lead Poisoning Cases Decline
Published: July 3, 2008

Childhood lead poisoning declined by 15 percent last year, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported on Wednesday, reaching the lowest rate ever recorded in New York City.
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The 2007 figure — 1,970 poisonings among children 6 months to 6 years of age — is a 90 percent decline since 1995, when nearly 20,000 children were identified with lead poisoning. Even low levels of lead poisoning can cause learning and behavior problems.

Lead-based paint, the primary cause of lead poisoning, has been banned since 1978, but many older buildings still contain the paint. Ingesting particles of lead-contaminated dust from flaking, peeling or chipped paint — often on doors and windows — is the most common pathway for lead poisoning among young children in the United States.

In 2007, 621 children under 18, including 538 younger than 6, were identified with blood lead levels of at least 15 micrograms per deciliter — a level that triggers an environmental investigation in the home and case coordination services. These cases have fallen 22 percent since 2006, when 800 children under 18 received the diagnosis. (Lead poisoning is defined as 10 or more micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood.)

The 2007 findings also show that testing for lead poisoning increased by about 3 percent among 1- and 2-year-olds since 2006.

Childhood lead poisoning occurs throughout New York City but is highest in Brooklyn.
While only 34 percent of New York City children age 6 months to less than 6 years live in Brooklyn, 43 percent of children newly identified with lead poisoning last year were Brooklyn residents.

Neighborhoods with the greatest number of cases included Borough Park, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Greenpoint and East New York.

Of the remaining New York City children with lead poisoning, 22 percent lived in Queens, mostly in western and southwestern Queens; 19 percent lived in the Bronx, mostly in Crotona, Tremont, Pelham, Throgs Neck, Fordham, Bronx Park, High Bridge and Morrisania; 13 percent lived in Manhattan, mostly in Washington Heights, Inwood, Central Harlem and Morningside Heights and on the Upper West Side; and 4 percent lived on Staten Island, mostly in Stapleton, St. George and Port Richmond.

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