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City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Zandra Lee, Public Health, (510) 981-5356


Berkeley, California (Thursday, October 28, 2010) - Berkeley homes are known for their charm and character, and more than 90 percent of Berkeley homes were built before 1978. While that makes for an architecturally interesting city, it is important that residents are aware that a major source of lead exposure is lead-based paint found in old and poorly-maintained buildings built before 1978 (when lead was removed from house paint).

Lead exposure continues to be a serious health challenge in Berkeley, and National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is a good opportunity for residents to identify ways to protect themselves and their families from exposure.

“It is especially dangerous for young children to be exposed to lead,” says Dr. Janet Berreman, City of Berkeley’s Health Officer. “Their bodies and brains are still developing. Even low doses of lead can cause learning disabilities and behavioral issues like hyperactivity, which can last for a lifetime. It’s really important for parents and caretakers to be vigilant and take preventive steps.”

Lead-based paint, in pre-1978 housing units, continues to be a major source of exposure. Children are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning because they often play on the floor and put things in their mouths. Other sources of lead exposure are children’s toys and jewelry, and take-home exposure from adults who work with lead (i.e., in painting, construction or radiator repair).

Most concerning is the fact that lead poisoning often goes undetected because there are usually no noticeable symptoms.

The good news is that lead poisoning is preventable – mainly by reducing exposure sources.  This year's Lead Prevention Week’s theme, “Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future,” underscores the importance of testing your home and your child, and getting the facts about how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects.

Here are some simple things you can do to help protect your children:
        • Practice Safe Lead Work Practices when repainting or renovating your home.
        • Get your child tested. Even if your young children seem healthy, ask your doctor to screen them for lead.
        • Get the facts! Contact the City of Berkeley Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program – 510-981-5356 – to find out how to get your home tested.

More information on the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program can be found at www.CityofBerkeley.info/publichealth.


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