united states | lead away!

Preventing lead exposure: Elmo and Luis lead the way with Lead Away!

Children’s Education Initiatives in the United States | Preventing lead exposure

Lead poisoning is one of the most common environmental health problems for children under 6. It’s also one of the most preventable. That’s where our Lead Away! initiative comes in.

Although lead-based paint was banned in the United States in 1978, it remains present in many older buildings and even in some toys, which can pose a serious threat to children where they live and play. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that about 250,000 U.S. children between the ages of 1 and 5 have especially high blood-lead levels, with serious implications for their education and overall health.

Lead Away! educational outreach kits help parents and kids recognize the hazards and avoid them before they can do harm. Kits in Spanish and English provide easy, everyday routines for avoiding exposure: washing hands before meals, staying away from peeling paint, and taking off shoes at the door. The materials also prepare children for getting their blood tested for lead exposure — the only way it can be detected. As Sesame Street’s Luis and Elmo tell kids in the program’s 15-minute video, everyone needs to work together to keep the lead away.

Major funding for Lead Away! is provided by UnitedHealthcare.