Thanks to the 1978 ban on lead in household paint, lead poisonings in children have decreased significantly. However, lead exposure is still a threat to children’s health today and can have a major impact on their development and intellectual abilities. According to the CDC, about 500,000 children in the US between the ages of one and five have raised lead levels in their blood, requiring medical intervention. This is because many families still live in homes that contain lead paint, which chips and breaks down into breathable dust as it ages. Remodeling also causes the dust from lead paint to get into the air and surfaces of a home where young children may transfer it to their mouths. And there are other lead sources your kids may be exposed to.
Here are some tips on protecting children from lead in the home:
- Request lead testing. Your local health department may provide testing of the paint and dust in your home.
- Always cook with and drink cold water. Pipes are often made of lead, and hot water holds onto it as it travels through your pipes and into your glasses or pots and pans.
- If you’re remodeling your home or disturbing paint that could contain lead in any way, children and pregnant women should not stay in the home. Be sure that the area has been thoroughly cleaned before they return.
- Keep your children away from chipping paint. Even if it’s only slightly, your child may still be able to transfer the chips or dust into his/her mouth.
- Regularly wash your child’s hands and toys. They could have dust containing lead on them.
- Wet mop floors and wet-wipe window areas. These are the areas where lead dust settles. Be sure to clean them every two to three weeks.
- Don’t allow your children to play in soil. Soil is another area where lead dust builds up around homes that contain lead or may have at some point. A sandbox is a safer play option.
- Be sure your kitchen supplies are lead free. Certain food containers, cookware and tableware may contain lead.
- Avoid candy imported from Mexico. They may not be lead-free.
- If someone in your household works in construction, at a shooting range, a bullet-making, or stained glass facility, make sure they shower and change clothes before interacting with children. Their skin and clothes could transfer lead to your child. It’s best to not bring any materials associated with these jobs into the home and to wash their clothing in a separate laundry from the family’s.
- Check that your child’s toys and toy jewelry haven’t been recalled. Many imported children’s items come from countries that don’t have strict lead regulations.
- Avoid traditional herbal or folk medicines. Greta and azarcon (Hispanic remedies), ghasard (Indian remedy), ba-baw-san (Chinese remedy), and Daw Tway (Thai remedy) have been known to contain high levels of lead.
If you suspect your child has been exposed to lead, see your pediatrician immediately for testing.
Source: cdc.gov and wikipedia.org