What is lead poisoning? Lead poisoning is a disease caused most often by eating lead paint chips or breathing in lead dust. Lead poisoning can occur at any age but is especially harmful to infants and children aged 6 years and younger because their bodies absorb lead more easily. Children with high levels of lead in their blood may not show any symptoms. Lead poisoning could lead to serious long-term effects such as:
- Damage to the brain, kidney and stomach
- Slowed growth and development
- Learning and behavior problems
- Hearing and speech problems
Fortunately, iron poisoning is preventable.
What are sources of lead?
- Peeling or chipping paint in homes built before 1978
- Dust from sanding or removing old paint and wallpaper
- Contaminated soil and dust from a nearby lead industry, artificial turf, older home
- Contaminated clothing from working in a lead industry or with lead products
- Tap water from old lead water pipes
- Food grown in contaminated soil or stored in handmade pottery or opened cans
- Candy, spices, jewelry and traditional medicine from other countries
- Paint and plastic found on toys
What are tips to preventing lead poisoning?
- Clean up chipping or peeling paint from inside and outside your home
- Clean up paint chips and lead dust on window sills and on the floor near windows, doorways, and woodwork by using a damp mop or cloth and a special lead cleaning product
- Have paint checked by an environmentalist if you are remodeling a home built before 1950
- Shower, change clothes before going home after working with lead on your job or hobby; store and wash work clothes separately
- Wash children’s hand and toys often
- Throw away lead-painted toys or clothes; and remove recalled toys immediately
- Never store food in open cans or pottery that are not known to be lead-free
- Buy pottery with lead-free glazes
- Eat foods high in iron and calcium which can help remove lead from the body easier
- Take off shoes when entering the house to prevent bringing contaminated soil in from outside
- Prevent children from playing in bare soil
- Use cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula
How to test for lead poisoning? Even children who appear health may have high levels of lead. The only way to know for sure if your child has been exposed to lead is with a simple blood test. If too much lead is in the body, you child may need treatment. To find out how to have your child tested, contact your pediatrician or local health department.