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Are you aware of the dangers posed by lead poisoning?

Lead is dangerous. It does not take much of it to pose a serious health hazard. An amount equal to one grain of sugar or salt can cause permanent injury. Children are especially at risk because lead harms their developing brains. Consequences to health can be severe. Lead poisoning can cause permanent health problems and can even be fatal.

Symptoms of lead poisoning in children are well known based on decades of research. They include loss of IQ, difficulty focusing and behavioral problems. Yet, because these symptoms are potentially from other sources, lead poisoning is often undiagnosed and not addressed.

Lead poisoning most often occurs in old housing

If you live in a structure that was built before 1978, there's a high risk that the walls are covered with lead paint. If that old paint is chipping and flaking, beware. And even if some effort is made to remove the lead threat, if it isn't done properly and by a certified company, the threat can remain.

Children between the ages of 6 months to 2 years old are most at risk. They crawl on the floor, slide their hands over window sills and then put their hands in their mouth. So old paint chips and lead contaminated dust often find their way into a young child's mouth.

New laws

In recent weeks, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to further address the issue of lead poisoning in the state. The bill directs the California Department of Public Heath to raise awareness among health care providers, parents on Medi-Cal and other parents with children at high risk of lead poisoning about the threat of childhood lead poisoning and their right to have their children tested for lead. It is crucial that parents with younger children in older housing make sure their children are tested for lead poisoning on an annual basis up to age 2.

The laws of Los Angeles and California put an obligation on landlords to remove any known lead hazards and to behave responsibly when handling a potential threat from lead based paint. Once tenants are educated about the health risks of lead hazards, they are in a better position to hold landlords accountable and to ensure their homes are safe.

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