WATERTOWN N.Y. (WWTI) — Jefferson County Public Health is recognizing National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, CDC and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency.

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week runs from October 23 through October 29 and raises awareness about the danger of lead exposure and poisoning. The initiative is also dedicated to educating parents on how to prevent lead exposure and its serious health effects and learn about the importance of lead testing in children.

“Lead poisoning prevention is a team effort,” said Faith Lustik, Jefferson County Public Health Services Lead Coordinator. “Parents, medical providers, landlords, schools, municipalities, contractors, and more all play a role in protecting the health of children in our community.”

The organization said about 3.6 million households in the U.S. with children under six years old live in homes with lead exposure hazards. According to the CDC, about 500,000 children in the U.S. between one and five years of age have blood levels of lead at or above the level at which the CDC recommends public health actions.

The most common source of lead exposure is lead-based paint in homes built before 1978, according to Public Health. Lead can be found inside and outside the home, including in the water that travels through lead pipes or in the soil around the house.

Public Health officials said lead can enter the body by inhaling lead dust, swallowing lead dust that settles in food or onto household surfaces and eating paint chips or soil that contain lead.

The organization said that signs and symptoms of lead poisoning don’t usually appear until dangerous levels have accumulated, so it’s important to screen children through the age of six and test all children for lead at ages one and two in an effort to reduce exposure.

More information regarding lead poisoning can be found on the Jefferson County Public Health website.