Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Lead and Lead Poisoning?
- Lead is a naturally occurring metal that has been used to make many products.
- Lead poisoning occurs when too much lead gets into the body.
- Lead poisoning is a serious but preventable health problem.
How does lead get into the body?
Lead can be eaten or breathed
Children get lead into their bodies by breathing lead-contaminated dust or by putting their hands, toys, or other objects with dust on them
If your child eats dirt or other non-food objects, this may increase the chances of getting lead into his or her body.
Who can get lead poisoning?
- Anyone can be lead poisoned. Young children, between the ages of nine months and six years of age are at the highest risk.
What can happen when a child is lead poisoned?
- Decreased intelligence/ability to learn.
- Increased behavior problems.
- Increased childhood health problems, such as anemia, speech and language delays, hearing problems, kidney damage, seizure, and in rare cases of extremely high levels, even death.
- Decreased school performance.
- Increased juvenile delinquency.
- Decreased health and economic status of the future adult population.
What causes lead poisoning?
The biggest exposure to lead for children is lead based paint hazards in older homes. Homes built before 1978 could have lead based paint, and homes built before 1950 are even more likely to have interiors painted with lead based paint.
Are there other sources of lead exposure?
- Other sources include: soil, parent's occupations/hobbies, imported pottery and dishes, home remedies, and water.
How do I know if my child has lead poisoning?
- There are often no signs or symptoms.
- Children can have lead poisoning and not look or act sick.
- Sometimes children feel sick to their stomachs and feel tired or irritable.
- A simple blood test is the only way to tell if your child is being affected by lead.
How do I pay for my child's lead test?
- Lead tests are paid for by several insurance plans and HMOs.
- If your child is on Medicaid, a lead test is required, so ask your child's Medicaid provider about the test result.
How can I get rid of the lead based paint in my home?
- The only way to permanently reduce lead hazards is to remove or replace painted surfaces in a lead-safe manner.
- Never use a dry method like sanding or scraping to remove lead painted surfaces- this will create lead-contaminated dust.
- Repairing and/or maintaining painted surfaces (primarily windows, exteriors, and trim) will also reduce lead exposure.
What else can I do in my home to prevent childhood lead poisoning?
- Clean up paint chips and dust with a wet mop or a wet cloth.
- Cover chipped paint and holes with contact paper, duct tape, or cardboard.
- Clean floors and inside windowsills with soap and cloths or paper towels. Then rinse the areas well with clean water and throw out the cloths or paper towels.
What else can I do to keep my children safe from lead?
- Wash your children's hands often, especially before meals, naps, and bedtime.
- Empty stomachs will absorb more lead. Feed your children a diet high in calcium and iron, and low in fat. Foods high in fat, such as potato chips, can make it easier for the body to absorb lead.
- Good foods high in Iron: lean meat and liver, chicken, dry beans and peas, iron-fortified cereals, potatoes with the skin
- Good foods high in calcium: milk and milk products (whole milk for children less than 2 years), cheese, yogurt and pudding.
- Other sources of calcium: canned salmon or sardines with bones, collard and other greens, broccoli, and tofu with added calcium (check the label)
- Good foods high in vitamin C: oranges & orange juice, grapefruit & grapefruit juice, tomatoes & tomato juice, and green peppers
- Flush tap water every morning for 3 minutes before you use it.
- Breastfeed your baby
- Even if you have been exposed to lead, it is usually ok to breastfeed. Discuss your concerns with your doctor.