Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention: What Can Parents Do?
Childhood lead poisoning can be prevented. The only way to prevent lead poisoning is to keep children from coming into contact with lead. Be sure you know the sources of lead and the steps you can take to immediately reduce the risk to your child.
Guidelines to Reduce the Risk of Lead Poisoning
Have your doctor test your child for lead. If you are pregnant and have concerns about being exposed to lead or have a child under the age of six, talk to your doctor about lead testing. Waukesha County Public Health recommends that all children be tested for lead exposure at age one and at age two. If your child is under the age of six and has never been tested (or has no record of a previous test), has a history of lead exposure, or is at greater risk of lead exposure, be sure to talk to your health care provider or clinic about testing. The best place to get tested is at your doctor's office, the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Clinic, or your local public health department. Most insurance plans pay for lead testing. Medicaid pays for the required testing for Medicaid-eligible children.
Find the sources of lead in your home.
Inside your home, know the possible sources of lead and the steps you can take to prevent exposure. If you work with lead at your job, shower, wash and change your work clothes and shoes before entering your home. Wash your work clothes separately from other clothes and run an empty cycle afterward to flush the washing machine.
Safely clean up lead paint and dust.
When old lead paint cracks or peels, it makes small paint chips or lead dust. Lead dust can be so small that you do not even see it. Windows are typically where the highest concentrations of lead dust are found. Using a HEPA vacuum and wet washing surfaces down with warm, soapy water will help clean up lead chips and dust. ALWAYS be cautious when performing any home repairs or renovations if your house was built before 1978. Follow lead-safe work procedures, and prevent your child from entering or disturbing any active work site. Consider hiring contractors certified in lead abatement if your house was built before 1978.
Practice safe drinking water steps.
If your home has a lead service line or plumbing, lead may dissolve into the water when it sits in these pipes for an extended period of time. Flush your pipes for a few minutes before you drink the water and do not drink warm water from the tap since it can dissolve the lead.
Wash your child's hands and toys. Children can be exposed to high levels of lead from swallowing a paint chip or dust on their hands and toys. Wash your child's hands frequently, especially before eating and after playing outside. Be sure to wash children's toys frequently, especially if they were outside or are covered in lead dust or dirt.
Feed your children healthy meals and snacks.
Children who are deficient in certain nutrients may absorb more lead. While the only way to prevent lead poisoning is to prevent exposure to lead, eating foods that are high in calcium, iron, and Vitamin C may help reduce the amount of lead absorbed by the body.
Avoid using traditional home remedies, cosmetics, and medicines.
Traditional or "folk" products, especially when imported from other countries, are often not regulated and may contain high amounts of lead. Home remedies such as greta, azarcon, and pay-loo-ah can contain lead. Some traditional cosmetics like Surma or Kohl and Sindoor have also tested positive for lead.
Be cautious when using imported, handmade, or antique toys, jewelry, food, or ceramics.
These substances are often linked to increased exposure to lead. If you are not sure a food or object is safe, do not use or give to your child. Do not use pottery, pewter, or crystal for cooking or eating since the lead can leach into the food.
Be cautious when working with hobbies that have lead.
Hobbies include ceramic glazes, oil paints, furniture refinishing, fishing weights, firing ammunition, metal toy soldiers, and stained glass.