Marjorie Rosenthal, MD, MPH, and Erin Nozetz, MD, FAAP, were elected vice chair and chair, respectively, of the New Haven Lead Task Force. The group is part of the New Haven Health Department under Mayor Elicker and is comprised of community members dedicated to lead toxicity prevention and treatment.
The immediate goal of the task force is to deal with homes that have been identified as containing lead, most commonly found in old paint. Drs. Rosenthal and Nozetz want to compile better data across the city to create a map of dangerous leaded homes — and safe homes — and create a plan to help quickly move families and children away from leaded properties and implement abatement protocols. With the data, they will educate local families and parents about lead poisoning prevention and the risks to children and pregnant women, since babies can be poisoned in utero.
Dr. Nozetz said that if lead levels are low, the body can naturally work to remove it, but only when the affected child is removed from the area where the lead is found or if the area is covered or removed. She said there are steps parents and caregivers can take immediately to prevent lead poisoning, like keeping an eye on kids and their behaviors, watching out for alligator skin patterned cracks, chipping, and cracking in paint. Immediately painting over it or covering it and keeping children away from the area can help, as well as implementing good hand washing, wiping things clean instead of vacuuming to prevent leaded dust from spreading, and making sure children have a healthy diet rich in calcium and iron that will help remove iron from their bodies.
Dr. Nozetz is also the associate director of the Pediatric Lead Program at Yale which addresses lead throughout southern Connecticut. The Pediatric Lead Program team includes two pediatricians, including one trained and certified in medical toxicology, a social worker, and an environmental specialist. The program hosts monthly clinics, conducts home visits (currently paused due to COVID), and hosts educational talks like lunch and learns and grand rounds at Bridgeport Hospital to get important prevention information out to local communities and physician practices.
The New Haven Task Force aims to compile enough data, resources, and prevention programs to disseminate to other cities and towns to prevent poisoning and ensure that kids who have been poisoned by lead receive long-term care and resources for healthy development.