Lead Poisoning: Take The Extra Steps To Avoid It

An estimated 37 million U.S. homes still contain lead-based paint. Some older and inexpensive toys contain lead. These become real threats to children under 6 who are more likely to put things in their mouths. Lead can be toxic and builds up in the body over time, causing serious health issues like impaired speech, hyperactivity and brain damage, much of which cannot be reversed. However, there are steps that can be taken to prevent this.


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    • Lead is especially dangerous to children. Their smaller, growing brains, bodies and nervous systems are more sensitive and easily absorb and retain lead. This can lead to:
      • Slow growth and development
      • Learning and behavior problems
      • Speech and hearing damage

    • Paint, dust and soil are the most common sources of lead.
    • Other lead sources are:
      • Your home may have plumbing with lead, which could affect your water.
      • Toys, furniture and jewelry may have parts that contain lead or have been painted with lead-based paints.
      • Some imported food and candies.
      • Lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery or porcelain, which could be used to store or cook food.
      • Jobs or hobbies that put you in contact with lead, such as renovations, auto body repairs or pottery.
      • Folk remedies, such as greta and azarcon, which are used to treat an upset stomach.

    • If your home was built before 1978, have it inspected for lead. Find a certified inspector or risk assessor at epa.gov/lead.
    • If you do find lead, make sure that your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint. Also be sure that children and pregnant women are out of the home during the renovation.
    • Try to keep your children and home clean and dust-free as much as possible, from mopping floors and wiping toys, to encouraging a “shoes-off” policy, to limiting your kids’ playtime in bare soil.
    • Go through your home and get rid of lead-based products. Make sure to check here for the latest information on products or toys that may have been recalled for lead.
    • Use only cold water for drinking and cooking. Also run water for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it, especially if you have not used the water for a few hours.
    • If you work with lead, shower and change your clothes before coming home. Also, wash your clothes separately from the rest of the family’s clothes.
    • Avoid using containers, cookware or tableware to store or cook foods and liquids that are not lead-free.
    • Avoid eating imported candies from Mexico, as the ingredient tamarind may contain lead. Also avoid using folk remedies such as greta and azarcon.
    • Children with good diets absorb less lead, so encourage your children to have a healthy diet, high in iron, calcium and Vitamin C.

    • The easiest way to determine any poisoning is through a simple blood test. Talk to your doctor about getting the test if you think you or your child have been in contact with lead.
    • Other signs to look out for:
      • Headache
      • Stomachache
      • Weight loss
      • Vomiting or diarrhea
      • Fussiness or dizziness
      • Trouble sleeping
      • Seizures
      • Joint pain
      • Lack of energy

Did You Know?

Vial with lead in it

Over 500,000 children between the ages of 1 and 5 have blood lead levels high enough to damage their health.