Nationwide Lead Poisoning Prevention Campaign Educates Families

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Childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children, yet nearly one million children are affected. To coincide with National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (October 21 -27), the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Ad Council are encouraging all families to get their children (ages zero to six) and homes (built before 1978) tested for lead poisoning. To extend this critical health message to caregivers, parents and pregnant women, they redistributed their national Lead Poisoning Prevention public service advertising (PSAs) nationwide.

This year’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week theme, “Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future,” underscores the importance of testing your home, testing your child, and learning how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects. A simple blood test can prevent permanent damage that will last a lifetime. In children, lead paint poisoning can cause lifelong learning disabilities, hearing loss, speech delays, developmental disabilities and aggressive/violent behaviors.

”Lead poisoning is indiscriminate, effecting children of all races and ethnicities, in rural and urban communities, and at every socioeconomic level,” said Ruth Ann Norton, executive director of the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. “There are still millions children and families at risk in homes around the country that contain lead paint hazards. We are grateful to the Ad Council and our federal partners for their commitment to help raise awareness about this tragic and costly disease.”

The most common pathway for lead poisoning is dust from deteriorating lead-based paint (on older windows, doors and trim, or walls) or through improper renovation, repair and painting activities in older homes and buildings that cause paint to chip, peel or flake. Families need to make sure the proper measures are taken when renovating, repairing or painting older homes built before 1978 by implementing lead-safe work practices.

Created pro bono by New York-based ad agency Merkley+Partners, the television, radio, print and digital PSAs target parents, caregivers and pregnant women whose children are at the greatest risk for lead poisoning. All of the PSAs direct caregivers, parents and pregnant women to visit leadfreekids.org and libredeplomo.org or call the National Lead Information Center’s toll-free number, 1-800-424-LEAD, for tools and resources about lead poisoning. Spanish-language PSAs are also available.

“Our partnership with the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, EPA, and HUD continues to provide access to critical tools and resources to educate families about how to prevent their children from exposure to lead poisoning,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “During National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week we encourage all caregivers and parents to get their children tested.”

Launched in April 2010, the campaign has received more than $50 million in donated media to date. The PSAs were distributed to more than 33,000 media outlets nationwide this week. Per the Ad Council model, the PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media.