Leading Education & Awareness on Lead in Greater Nashua
All children are at risk for lead poisoning, and every child should be tested at 1 and 2 years of age. Children aged 3 to 6 who have not previously been tested should also have the test. The Greater Nashua Leading Education and Awareness on Lead (L.E.A.D.) initiative is working to increase blood lead level testing for children under 6 years of age in the Greater Nashua Public Health Region (GNPHR) through educational opportunities and educational materials for health care providers, child care providers, and the general public.
What is Lead Poisoning?
Lead is a highly toxic. Lead poisoning occurs when lead too much lead gets into the body through the skin, breathing, eating, or drinking, and builds up, usually over a course of months or years. High levels of lead in the body can harm the brain, damage speech and hearing, and result in learning and behavior problems. Children aged 6 and younger are at highest risk for lead poisoning because they can absorb lead more easily than older kids and adults, and lead is more harmful to them.
Greater Nashua is at High Risk for Lead Poisoning
Children in our region are at particular risk, since the most common source of childhood lead poisoning is lead paint in older homes, and over 50% of the homes in the GNPHR were built before lead paint was banned in 1978. As these houses age, lead paint cracks and chips, resulting in dangerous lead chips and dust, which can be poisonous to anybody, especially children. Although lead paint and dust are the most hazardous sources of lead for children, lead can be found in many sources including work clothes, tap water, toys, and spices.
In 2015, NH Healthy Homes Lead Poisoning Prevention Program found that within the GNPHR;
- More than 52% of the Greater Nashua housing stock was built before 1978, when the use of lead paint was banned.
- More than 27% of the housing stock in the City of Nashua was built before 1950.
- In 2015, only 19% of children 0-5 years old living in the City of Nashua were tested for blood lead.
- 5% of the population tested had elevated blood lead levels.
NH has seen above average rates of blood lead levels in children, partially due to older homes which still contain lead paint. NH has also seen low blood lead level testing rates for children. Our goal is to the change that.
How Can I Protect My Family?
The only way to know if a child has lead poisoning is by getting a blood test to check their blood lead level. A blood lead test is simple, quick, and covered by all insurance companies, and Medicaid. Ask your child's health care provider to perform a blood lead test for any child aged 1 or 2 years old, and for children aged 3 to 6 years old who have not previously been tested or are at elevated risk. Don't have insurance? Contact us to find a testing location near you.
It's New Hampshire Law - Universal Testing Law (NH SB247)
As of April 2018, NH became a universal testing state, requiring that all health care providers conduct blood lead level tests for all 1 and 2 year olds. This law requires property investigation and case management by the NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for blood lead level (BLL) test results that are over the actionable BLL. The current actionable BLL is 7.5 mcg/dL, and on July 1, 2021, it will be lowered to 5 mcg/dL. If a child's BLL is over 7.5 mcg/dl, DHHS will perform a home inspection to identify lead hazards, and the child will enter lead case management, including a home visit by a public health nurse. As these new regulations are implemented, it is important to provide education and awareness to pediatric health care providers, child care providers, and the community about the changes in requirements for blood lead testing in children, as well as the effects of lead exposure. Fore more information about the law, read the NH SB247 Quick Facts.
What We Do
We all play a critical role in the early detection and prevention of childhood lead poisoning. L.E.A.D. Greater Nashua is working towards its goal of increasing blood lead testing in all children under 6 years of age in the GNPHR by providing all regional pediatric health care providers and child care providers with a toolkit containing the tools needed to increase BLL testing in children. These toolkits contain information and resources such as a lead testing quick guide, tips on how to talk to parents about getting their child tested for lead, lead fact sheets, and more. Although these toolkits are being distributed to providers in the GNPHR, this information is available for all providers to access.
L.E.A.D. Greater Nashua is also collaborating with the City of Nashua Community Health Department to provide further education and resources to a network of health care providers at scheduled quarterly lunch and learns.
L.E.A.D. Greater Nashua will be conducting community outreach in the GNPHR from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020. Outreach plans include advertising, events, cross-promotion, and media relations/social media. L.E.A.D. Greater Nashua plans to manage a Facebook ad campaign throughout the GNPHR, rent a highly visible billboard, and use transit advertising to spread our message throughout our community. L.E.A.D. Greater Nashua will have outreach tables at various events throughout the year including the 2019 NH Healthy Homes Conference, 2019 Greater Nashua Public Health Advisory Council Annual Meeting, regional Back to School events, and numerous others listed in the Upcoming Events section below. Additionally, L.E.A.D. Greater Nashua plans to partner with the City of Nashua Community Health Department to provide information at additional community events. L.E.A.D. Greater Nashua also plans to create several local press releases, and information and resources will be aired on community TV and radio stations within the GNPHR.
Maternal and Child Health Workgroup
This effort to reduce the number of children in the GNPHR under the age of 6 years old with high blood lead levels is a primary goal related to the Maternal and Child Health priority area in the 2018-2021 Greater Nashua Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). The Maternal and Child Health Workgroup aims to increase education and awareness of resources for maternal and child physical and behavioral health in the GNPHR. This aligns with the goal of L.E.A.D. Greater Nashua, to increase education and awareness of lead testing and resources related to lead, including those provided in provider toolkits, on marketing materials, and provided here on the website. Learn how you can be part of this workgroup below.
What You Can Do
Spread the Word
- Test your kids for lead!
- Share this information with people you know, including friends, parents, coworkers, parents, or anyone else because anyone can be affected by childhood lead poisoning.
- Educate others that NH State Law requires all children to be tested for lead poisoning at ages 1 and 2.
- Encourage parents to talk to their health care provider about getting their children tested for lead.
Join the Maternal and Child Health Workgroup
If you are interested in being a part of making change in your community by working together to improve the health of children, sign up here today!
2020 Leading Education and Awareness on Lead Conference
Jessica Hillman, Public Health Associate
City of Nashua Division of Public Health & Community Services