Campaign’s Social Media Channels Raise Awareness of Importance of Getting Children Tested for Lead Poisoning

The Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have  joined the Ad Council to unveil a new series of national public service advertisements (PSAs) to raise awareness about childhood lead poisoning. The PSAs are being distributed to kick off National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW). Additionally, the campaign’s social media presence through Facebook and Twitter will reinforce to parents, caregivers and pregnant women that if their home was built before 1978, they should have their child tested for lead poisoning.

Created pro bono by New York-based ad agency Merkley+Partners and Totality, the new television, radio and digital PSAs emphasize that lead poisoning is 100% preventable. All of the PSAs direct caregivers, parents and pregnant women to visit and or call a toll-free number, 1-800-424-LEAD, for tools and resources about lead poisoning. Spanish-language PSAs are also available.

“It was a pleasure to have been able to work with the Ad Council in this very important campaign,” said Leo Olper, CEO of Totality. “As marketers and advertising agencies we have a responsibility to use our expertise and vehicles to inform and educate our consumers. The Hispanic consumer and their children will greatly benefit from this message as it will arm them with information, educate them and potentially save their kids’ lives.”

Childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children, yet an estimated 1 million children are affected. A simple blood test can prevent permanent damage that will last a lifetime. If lead poisoning is not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior and learning problems (such as hyperactivity), slowed growth, hearing problems and aggressive behavior.

Launched in April 2010, the Lead Poisoning Prevention campaign aims to raise awareness of the consequences of lead poisoning to children among parents, caregivers and pregnant women who are at the greatest risk for lead poisoning. The campaign’s objective is to educate parents about the dangers of lead poisoning so they can take immediate action to safeguard their children.

The most common pathway for lead poisoning is caused by deteriorating lead-based paint (on older windows, doors and trim, or walls) or through improper renovation, repair and painting activities that cause paint to chip, peel, or flake. Children are frequently poisoned by ingesting lead dust that has accumulated on their hands, fingers, toys, or clothing from lead hazard sources like floors and windowsills.

First observed in 1999, the goal of NLPPW is to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in the United States by:

  • Raising awareness about lead poisoning;
  • Stressing the importance of screening the highest risk children younger than 6 years of age (preferably by ages 1 and 2) if they have not been tested yet;
  • Highlighting partner’s efforts to prevent childhood lead poisoning; and
  • Urging people to take steps to reduce lead exposure.

To date, the campaign has received more than $28 million in donated media. The new PSAs are being distributed to more than 33,000 media outlets nationwide this week. Per the Ad Council model, the PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media.

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