Lead Poisoning Prevention
Lead is a toxic metal that produces many adverse health effects. Lead poisoning is a disease caused by exposure to and the absorption of lead, but lead poisoning is preventable. How much lead can cause lead poisoning? Take a penny and break it up in to 2 million pieces; now take 2 pieces out of the 2 million. Just those 2 pieces is enough to poison you.
There are two pathways to lead exposure:
Lead can be found in many products that most parents are unaware of such as:
- Food or liquid containers
- Painted furniture
- Plumbing products
- Toys, etc.
Sometimes, children are lead poisoned because a parent unknowingly brings lead dust home from their job. Some high risk lead exposure occupations are:
- Auto body repair
- Battery manufacturing
- Compounding plastic resins, such as those used to make jewelry
- Gun firing ranges
- Inks, dyes, glazes, paints or pigments
- Lead fishing weights and lures
- Lead soldering, electronics, plumbing, etc.
- Leaded glass or crystal
- Manufacturing of ammunition and explosives
- Plating operations
- Radiator repair
- Stained glass windows/lamps
To help reduce exposing yourself or your children if you work in any of the previously listed occupations:
- Do not eat, drink or smoke in lead-contaminated work areas
- Wash your hands before eating, smoking or touching your face after working with lead
- Wear your protective equipment over your clothing whenever you work with lead
- Shower, wash your hair and change into clean clothes (including shoes) before leaving the workplace; "take home lead" can contaminate your vehicle, home and can harm your family
- Store street clothes in a separate area from your work clothes
- Eating a well-balanced diet with proper nutrition
Lead Exposure Symptoms
A person can be lead poisoned without showing signs and symptoms. That is why it is important have a blood lead test done. Some signs may include:
- Joint pain
- Lack of appetite
- Miscarriage or premature birth in pregnant women
- Muscular weakness
- Numbness or tingling of the extremities
- Reduced sperm count
- Stomach ache
A diet low in fat and high in iron and calcium can reduce the lead the body absorbs. This is because a diet that lacks iron, calcium and zinc will cause the body to absorb lead instead of these needed minerals.
How Can You Reduce Lead in the Environment?
- Wash children's hands after play, before eating and before bed
- Wash their toys, pacifiers and other objects they put in their mouths
- Use only lead-free ceramics for cooking or storing food; pottery from foreign countries often contains lead
- Feed your child 3 meals a day with foods high in calcium
- Use only cold water from the cold water tap for cooking or for making baby formula; run water from the cold water tap until the temperature changes (about 1 minute)
- Once a week, use detergent or wet wipes to mop floors, window sills, furniture, mini blinds or other surfaces that may contain lead in dust
- If your home was built before 1978 test your home for lead before renovating or repairing; never dry sand, dry scrape or sandblast paint
- Keep your child away from peeling or chipping paint
- Plant shrubs, grass, or other ground cover on bare soil you suspect may contain lead
- Recycle spent rechargeable batteries
- Cover lead-painted walls and ceilings with plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paneling or lead-free paint
- Install vinyl siding over lead paint outdoors; these keep lead paint from chipping and falling into places where children live and play
For Parents, Guardians, & Child Care Providers
Learn more about childhood lead poisoning prevention.
For Home Renovators, Builders & Contractors
Learn more about residential lead hazards.
For Schools & Child Care Facilities
Learn about grant funding for lead testing in schools and child care facilities.