Lead poisoning can cause serious harm to your child, like permanent behavior problems or permanent brain damage. If you are pregnant when exposed to lead, your unborn baby could be hurt. Lead paint is common in homes built before 1978. Lead can also be found in old or imported toys, jewelry, some home remedies, imported candy, dirt, in old water pipes, and at some job-sites. For a complete list and explanations, go to the CDC website: www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips.htm.
Children under 6 years old are at the greatest risk. Many children show no symptoms of poisoning. In others, the symptoms might look like the flu or fatigue (tiredness, sleeplessness, stomachache, vomiting).
You can keep your child from getting poisoned or lower the lead levels if the child has already been poisoned. 4 things to remember are:
Lead is found in many places, like paint, plaster, dirt, dust, ink, batteries, old toys and tap water. Many children put paint chips in their mouths. They also put things that are covered with lead dust into their mouths. There are ways to make sure that your child is safer.
If you have chipped or flaking lead paint in your home, have it fixed by a licensed lead paint contractor. Don’t do it yourself or let untrained people do it. If you are renting, call your landlord immediately to have it fixed. See our fact sheet Lead Paint and Tenants’ Rights.
Wash your children’s hand often, especially after they play outside, and before eating.
Wash your children’s toys often.
Check toys and children’s furniture for product recalls. The Consumer Product Safety Commission website has lists of product recalls that have to do with lead content. www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/
Keep your home as clean and free from dust as possible. The best way to clean up lead dust is to wet mop your floors, wipe your window ledges, and wash all surfaces. Use a combination of warm water and dishwasher soap that has tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) in it. Pour the used water down the toilet. Wear plastic gloves when you clean. Throw out the used rags, sponges and mop-heads in a heavy-duty plastic bag.
Keep children away from chipping paint and window sills. Also, keep furniture away from damaged paint and windows so the kids don’t climb up on them.
Clean outside. Hose off porches, sidewalks, driveways and the sides of buildings to remove paint chips and dust.
Take off shoes before coming in the house or make sure they are wiped well on a doormat outside. This keeps dirt and dust with lead in it out of your home.
Change out of work clothes and shower before you come home, if you work with lead at your job. Wash your work clothes separately from the rest of the family laundry. Lead is used in many workplaces such as radiator repair shops, battery manufacturing plants and lead smelters.
Test painted areas for lead before you remodel or remove paint. Never sand, burn or scrape paint unless you are sure it does not have lead. It can make lead dust that children inhale.
Cover lead areas inside. You can use contact paper, paper sacks, tape or plastic. Do not use newspaper with colored ink.
Cover bare dirt in your yard. Dirt can have lead in it from car fumes or from paint on the outside of the house. Cover the dirt with grass, bushes, wood chips or sand.
Throw away or recycle newspapers and comic books. The ink may have lead in it.
If you rent and have chipped or flaking paint in your home, ask your landlord to have it tested immediately. See our fact sheet, Lead Paint and Tenants’ Rights, for more information.
If your plumbing was installed before 1985, it may have lead solder. If it was done before 1930, it may have lead pipes. You may want to get your water tested, also.
Many businesses and agencies offer low-cost lead tests. They can test paint, water, dirt, and other substances for lead. Call the Department of Health at (651) 201-4620 to find out who can do these tests near you.