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Lead picture improves



Last year, Monroe County had fewer reports of children younger than age 6 with elevated levels of lead in their blood. | Specifically, the number of children with blood-lead levels of 10 micrograms per deciliter dropped from 290 in 2010 to 222 in 2011, according to statistics released recently by the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning. In Monroe County, 10 micrograms is the blood-lead threshold that triggers intervention by public health officials. | The 2011 figure is significantly lower than it was in 1999, when 1,698 children had blood-lead levels above 10 micrograms per deciliter. | "We have been making tremendous progress over the years in reducing the amount of lead poisoned children," says Dr. Andrew Doniger, director of the county Health Department. | Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control recommended a lower intervention threshold of 5 micrograms per deciliter. There were 993 Monroe County children under age 6 who exceeded that threshold in 2011.| Mel Callan, a nurse practitioner with Highland Family Medicine and co-chair of the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning, says more frequent inspection of older one- and two-unit buildings would help bring child lead poisoning numbers down further.

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