Lead is a highly poisonous metal that can have serious health effects, especially for children under the age of 6. It only takes a small amount of lead to severely affect their mental and physical development. Lead-based paint and lead contaminated soil are the most common sources of exposure. House paint in the U.S. no longer contains lead; however, lead-based paint can be found in homes built before 1978. As the paint deteriorates, the lead ends up in the dust inside and outside your home. Young children are at the greatest risk because they tend to put their hands or objects that could be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths. Other sources of exposure to lead include lead-based solder & plumbing fixtures; folk or traditional medicines; pottery & ceramic glazes; imported toys & jewelry; and some candies imported from Mexico. While there are lots of different sources of lead, you can take steps to protect your family.
What can you do to reduce the risk of lead poisoning? Start by assessing your habits and behaviors.
- Was your home built before 1978?
- Is the paint peeling on the exterior or interior, in particular around the windows and doors?
- Do your children play in an area where there is bare soil?
- Is your vegetable garden in an area where there could be lead contaminated soil?
- Does your work involve working with lead-based products like batteries, stained glass, bullets or a firing range?
TAKE ACTION – Lower your risk of exposure to lead!
- Mop your floors and use a damp rag weekly to remove dust.
- If you have lead plumbing or solder, run the water for a few minutes before drinking it, and use cold water to prepare food and drink.
- If your children play on bare soil in the yard, give them a sandbox and keep it covered when it isn’t in use so it doesn’t become a liter box for all the cats in the neighborhood.
- Don’t plant a vegetable garden if the soil could be contaminated with lead.
- Teach your family members to remove their shoes at the door so they don’t bring the lead dust indoors. Learn more about Leaving Your Shoes At The Door.
- Make sure your children wash their hands and faces before eating.
- Shower and change your clothes after working with lead-based products.
For additional information on lead and how you can make your home healthier visit:
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- What do parents need to know to protect their children?
- FAQs about lead-contaminated products
- CA Department of Public Health List of Candy that has been tested for lead content.
Please tell us in the comments or by email what one thing you did to make your home safer for your family.