Exposure Risks & Prevention
Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child's health, including damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems, and hearing and speech problems. This can cause lower IQ, decreased ability to pay attention and underperformance at school.
- Lead can be found throughout a child's environment. Homes build before 1978 (when lead-based paints were banned) probably contain lead-based paint. When the paint peels and cracks, it makes lead dust. Children can be poisoned when they swallow or breathe in lead dust.
- Certain water pipes may contain lead.
- Lead can be found in some products such as toys and toy jewelry.
- Lead is sometimes in candles imported from other countries or traditional home remedies.
- Certain jobs and hobbies involve working with lead-based products, like stained glass work, and may cause parents to bring lead into the home.
535,000 US children ages 1 to 5 years have blood lead levels high enough to damage their health. 24 million homes in the US contain deteriorated lead-based paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust; 4 million of these are home to young children. It can cost $5,600 in medical and special education costs for each seriously lead-poisoned child.
The good news is that lead poisoning is 100% preventable. Take these steps to make your home lead-safe:
- Talk with your child's doctor about a simple blood lead test. If you are pregnant or nursing, talk with you doctor about exposure to souces of lead.
- Talk with the Public Health Division about testing paint and dust in your home for lead if you live in a home built before 1978.
- Renovate safely. Common renovation activities (like sanding, cutting, replacing windows and more) can create hazardous lead dust. If you're planning renovations, use contractors certified by the EPA.
- Remove recalled toys and toy jewelry from children and discard as appropriate. Stay up-to-date on current recalls by visiting the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Website.
Addiitional Information can be found in the Housing/Health Inspections Division.