About the Lead Program
The Greater Nashua Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is a resource that provides support to the community by offering education, blood lead level testing, and case management. The goal is to raise awareness of lead hazards and provide access to lead poisoning prevention resources. We hope to eliminate childhood lead poisoning through partnerships, community-based education, and advocacy.
Dangers of Lead
What is Lead Poisoning?
Lead is a highly toxic. Lead poisoning occurs when 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 six 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.
There is no safe blood lead level in children. Even low levels of lead are harmful. Low levels are associated with decreased intelligence, behavior problems, reduced physical stature and growth, and impaired hearing.
Who is at Risk?
All children are at risk for lead poisoning. Evidence shows that the most common source of lead exposure for children today is lead paint in older housing. New Hampshire has the oldest housing of anywhere in the United States. Children in our region are at particular risk, since over 50% of the homes in Greater Nashua 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.
Sources of Lead
- Paint (and associated dust) pre 1978 ban
- Drinking water
- Folk medicines and cosmetics
- Children’s costume jewelry, masks, and imported toys
- Workplace (construction, fuse of firearms, painting and refinishing, scrap metal, manufacturing, plumbing, welding, and more)
- Hobbies (fire arms, stained glass, fishing with sinkers and jig heads, pottery, furniture refinishing, and more)
- Imported candies and spices
- Lead-glazed ceramics, china, leaded crystal, and pewter
- Wash children’s hands after playing and before eating
- Wash bottles, pacifiers, play spaces, and toys often with warm, soapy water
- If needed, talk to your landlord about fixing surfaces with peeling or chipping paint
- Clean floors, window sills, and other surfaces with a wet mop or cloth often
- Make sure children eat low-fat foods high in iron, calcium, and vitamin C
- Remove your shoes when coming indoors
Is Your Child at Risk?
Your child may be at increased risk for lead poisoning if:
- They live in a home that was built prior to 1978
- They attend day care or spend time with a relative(s) in a home built prior to 1978
- They moved to an older building since their last blood lead test
- They spend time with an adult whose job or hobby exposes them to lead
- You receive benefits from Medicaid, WIC, or Head Start, and a lead test has not been done
Blood lead level testing is an integral part the health and safety of our children. Many parents may be unaware of potential lead exposures in their homes, which is why blood lead level testing is highly recommended for children one and two years of age, as well as children aged three to six who have not been previously tested.
Senate Bill 247 (SB247) made New Hampshire a universal lead testing state as of April 9, 2018. This means all medical providers must perform a blood lead level (BLL) test for all children 1 and 2 yeas of age. Ask your child’s health care provider to perform a blood lead test if your child is 1 or 2 years of age, or is aged 3 to 6 and has not previously been tested or is at high risk. SB247 requires insurance companies and Medicaid to cover the cost of blood lead testing.
To find out if your child has been exposed to lead and to get them tested, contact your healthcare provider or the Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services. We currently offer immunizations through weekly mobile clinics in Nashua. Beginning July 12th, our Community Health Clinic at 18 Mulberry Street will be open to the public. Clinic services will be available by appointment - schedule an appointment here.