Released to coincide with National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (Oct. 25 – 31)
HONOLULU, October 26, 2020 — Thousands of kids in Hawaiʻi may be suffering from the harmful effects of lead poisoning. A new report, released today by the nonprofit Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network, shows how the state can prevent this.
“Childhood lead poisoning is a completely preventable health threat,” said Deborah Zysman, Executive Director of Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network. “With universal childhood testing and the recommendations outlined in the report, we can protect children and the larger community from the life-altering effects of lead poisoning.”
There is no safe level of lead in the body, but about 1% of Hawaiʻi children ages 1 and 2 showed elevated blood lead levels, according to the report. Further, only about a quarter of kids in Hawaiʻi are even tested, so the actual rate of lead poisoning is still unknown. Even low levels of lead exposure can have severe long-term consequences that follow children into adulthood.
HCAN’s report recommends increasing public education, requiring all children to be tested, increasing inspections of houses and other possible lead sources, and expanding funding for lead poisoning prevention. These recommendations are based on perspectives from pediatricians, toxicologists, public health professionals, and environmental emergency response professionals.
“This is a matter of health equity and justice,” said Zysman. “Although lead poisoning can affect any family, some keiki are more at risk, including low-income families, recent immigrants and refugees, and those who live in homes built before 1978. As a state, we have an obligation to ensure our most vulnerable children and communities can lead healthy lives.”
Contact: Ryan Catalani
(808) 531-5502 ext. 4
Download the report: https://www.hawaii-can.org/childhood_lead_poisoning_prevention
Educational materials for families are also available at that link, courtesy of the Hawaiʻi Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
HCAN Executive Director Deborah Zysman is available for press interviews.
About Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network (HCAN): HCAN is a nonprofit creating a unified voice for Hawaiʻi’s children. Its grassroots movement strives to ensure that all keiki are safe, healthy, and ready to learn. For more information, visit http://www.hawaii-can.org.