NEW YORK - New York Health Department has released the 2009 report on children suffering from lead poisoning. In the City, among the children aged six months to six-years-old, there were 1,387 cases of lead poisoning, a 12 percent decrease compared to 2008 statistics. However, the percentage of Asian American children suffering from lead poisoning had gone up and made up 27 percent of the children contaminated by lead, even though they represent only 11 percent of that age bracket population. To address this issue, the Health Department prepared information in Chinese to increase awareness about preventing lead poisoning.
Health Department Commissioner Thomas Farley indicated that although the percentage of children suffering from lead poisoning in New York City reached a new historical low, many children still suffer from lead poisoning, which is preventable. The main cause of lead poisoning is airborne dust from lead paint so landlords must avoid paints containing lead when painting and repainting their walls. As well, community health clinics should conduct blood tests for lead on children.
Lead poisoning can damage the brain, nervous system, internal organs and the reproductive system. It can also affect children's cognitive and developmental abilities. Furthermore, lead poisoning can affect pregnant women and their fetuses. Normal lead level in the body is measured to be 10μg/dL. If the blood contains more than 15μg/dL, environmental intervention is recommended. According to the Health Department study, in 2009, New York City had 439 cases of environmental intervention blood lead investigations. Geographically, the worst area was in Brooklyn, with 42 percent of the serious lead poisoning cases, coming from Borough Park, Greenpoint, and Coney Island. Other parts of New York, including Port Richmond in Staten Island and the Bronx, also witnessed a significant number of cases.
In terms of racial makeup of all the serious lead poisoning cases in children, 37 percent were Hispanic, 27 percent Asian-American, 22 percent African American, and 11 percent Caucasian. The percentage of the population represented by these four groups is 33 percent, 11 percent, 27 percent, and 27 percent respectively, which highlights the disproportionate level of cases within the Asian-American community.
Many children may have come into contact with certain products that contain lead, such as health products and cosmetics imported from China, and Mexican candies, jewelry and toys. Cooking and storage utensils may also contain lead. Family members who work in construction may bring home lead dust on their clothes and tools.