Lead Poisoning is Dangerous!
Lead poisoning is still a major problem and is especially harmful to children. Here’s some helpful information on what you can do to help!
Protecting children from exposure to lead is important to lifelong good health. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected. The goal is to prevent lead exposure to children before they are harmed. There are many ways parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead. The most important is stopping children from coming into contact with lead. Lead hazards in a child’s environment must be identified and controlled or removed safely.
How are children exposed to lead?
Children under the age of 6 years old are at risk because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands or other objects, which may contain lead or be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths.
Children who live or reside in older housing are at greatest risk. Additionally, children of some racial and ethnic groups living in older housing are disproportionately affected by lead.
What can be done to prevent exposure to lead?
Talk to your state or local health department about testing paint and dust from your home for lead.
Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
Children and pregnant women should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation. They should not participate in activities that disturb old paint or in cleaning up paint debris after work is completed.
Create barriers between living/play areas and lead sources. Until environmental clean-up is completed, you should clean and isolate all sources of lead. Close and lock doors to keep children away from chipping or peeling paint on walls. You can also apply temporary barriers such as contact paper or duct tape, to cover holes in walls or to block children’s access to other sources of lead.
Regularly wash children’s hands and toys. Hands and toys can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil. Both are known lead sources.
Regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window components. Because household dust is a major source of lead, you should wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces every 2-3 weeks. Windowsills and wells can contain high levels of leaded dust. They should be kept clean. If feasible, windows should be shut to prevent abrasion of painted surfaces or opened from the top sash. Take off shoes when entering the house to prevent bringing lead-contaminated soil in from outside.
Prevent children from playing in bare soil; if possible, provide them with sandboxes. Plant grass on areas of bare soil or cover the soil with grass seed, mulch, or wood chips, if possible. Until the bare soil is covered, move play areas away from bare soil and away from the sides of the house. If you have a sandbox, cover the box when not in use to prevent cats from using it as a litter box. That will help protect children from exposure to animal waste.
A blood test is the only way to know if there has been an exposure to lead. Talk to your medical doctor about lead testing your child.
To further reduce a child’s exposure from non-residential paint sources:
Avoid using traditional folk medicine and cosmetics that may contain lead;
Avoid eating candies and imported foods;
Avoid using imported ceramics, to store or cook foods or liquids;
Remove recalled toys and toy jewelry immediately from children;
Use only cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula (Hot water is more likely to contain higher levels of lead. Most of the lead in household water usually comes from the plumbing in your house)
Change clothes before you go into your home after finishing a task that involves working with lead-based products such as stained glass, making bullets, or using a firing range.