Chatham Co. Health Dept. offering free lead testing for children this month

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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WSAV) – The Chatham County Health Department is offering free lead testing through Oct. 30 for anyone who thinks their child may have been exposed to lead.

Next week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, a nationwide effort to raise
awareness about the preventable, but dangerous, environmental threat. Lead exposure can be extremely harmful during early childhood development, according to health experts.

The health department says last year in Chatham County, more than 3,600 children under age six were tested for lead in the blood, and 86 of them had blood lead levels that were too high. Even low levels of lead in blood can affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and learning.

The negative impacts of lead exposure cannot be reversed, so it’s extremely important to detect elevated blood lead levels early, the health department says.

“The most common source of lead exposure is from lead-based paint, which you often find in
homes built before 1978,” said Dr. Chris Rustin, Administrator of the Chatham County Health
Department. “Savannah is well known for its historic architecture, but our older housing supply
means many children could be exposed to lead in paint or the soil.”

When lead paint gets old, it can start peeling and become a hazard. Adults and children get lead in their bodies by breathing in lead, swallowing lead dust, or eating paint chips or soil that contains lead. Lead exposure can also come from toys, jewelry, fishing lures, glazed pottery, and other products.

If you would like to have your child tested, contact the Chatham County Health Department at
912-356-2441 to make an appointment for a free screening between now and Oct. 30.

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