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Contact: Lori Buttars
Public Information Officer
(801) 399-7114

Press Release
November 29, 2007

Free Lead Testing at the Fairgrounds
Health department offers pre-holiday public service after TV report on Ogden couple

Residents of Weber and Morgan counties are invited to bring their dinnerware and other household items to a free lead-testing event at the Weber County Fairgrounds on December 13.

The testing is in response to public concerns over lead-contaminated products after Weber-Morgan health officials found lead on ceramic dinner plates in the home of an Ogden couple, whose 18-month-old child had been diagnosed with elevated levels of lead in its blood. The story was featured on a recent segment of KUTV’s “Get Gephardt.”

“That news report generated a lot of public interest,” says Frank Carlsen, environmental health scientist with the Weber-Morgan Health Department. “We thought with the holidays coming up, people might be wondering about the dishes in their cupboard and some of the family heirlooms they plan on using this time of year and so we are offering this as a free public service.”

The case was unique since most of the cases of childhood lead poisoning in Weber County come from exposure to lead-based paint in homes built prior to 1978. Since then, new government guidelines for paint have come into effect. But recent nationwide recalls of imported items, such as toys and porcelain and ceramic dinnerware, have been set in place after tests revealed high levels of lead.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the only way to know if your child has a problem is with a blood test administered by a physician. Children are especially susceptible to the effects of lead exposure because of their developing nervous systems. Their risk may be greater due to their diet, especially the consumption of acidic juices that promotes leaching of lead from ceramics.

“Anything they have day-to-day contact with poses the biggest danger,” Carlsen says. “You can’t tell if something is leaching lead just by looking at it. But if it is cracked or has chips in the paint, it could be a problem.”

The lead testing will take place at the Exhibition Hall at the Weber County Fairgrounds, 1181 N. Fairgrounds Drive (1200 West) in Ogden. The tests, which can only be done with X-Ray testing devices borrowed from the Utah Division of Air Quality, will be conducted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a limit of 5 items per household.

Any item that comes back with a lead reading of 1.0 is considered unacceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency.

For more information on childhood lead poisoning, see the Centers of Disease Control website on lead-poisoning prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/ . A list of known brands of contaminated dinnerware can be found at http://www.fda.gov/ora/fiars/ora_import_ia5208.html.