Lead poisoning is a serious problem for young children. The long term effects of lead in a child can be severe, including learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, and even brain damage. Even children who appear healthy may have high levels of lead. You may have lead in the dust, paint or soil in and around your home. You can not see, taste or smell lead. A simple blood test is the best way to tell you if your child has lead poisoning.
When should your child be screened for lead poisoning?
Children should be screened for lead poisoning around the age of one year, or at six months if you think your home has lead in it or if you live in a building built prior to 1978. Children older than one year should have a blood test every couple of years-every year if you live in a house or apartment that contains lead paint, or if you use lead in your job or hobby. This screening is available through your physician, or if you are uninsured the Health Department may be able to do a blood lead screening.
How to protect your child:
If you live in a home built before 1978, window paint used in your home may have contained lead. Tiny pieces of peeling or chipping lead paint are dangerous if eaten.
- Make sure your child does not chew on anything covered with lead paint, such as painted window sills, cribs, or playpens
- Keep the areas where your child(ren) play as dust-free and clean as possible
- Wash pacifiers and bottles after they fall on the floor
- Mop floors and wipe window ledges and chewable surfaces such as cribs with a solution of powdered automatic dishwasher detergent in warm water. (Dishwasher detergents are recommended because of their high-phosphate content)
- Make sure your child(ren) wash their hands before meals, nap time, and bedtime.
- Children who get enough iron and calcium will absorb less lead. Foods rich in iron include eggs, lean red meat and beans.
When is an Environmental Assessment needed?
If your child has an elevated blood lead reading the Health Department has staff trained as a certified lead hazard investigator and a lead risk assessor. They can answer questions and make suggestions to decrease environmental lead exposure. If the child’s venous blood lead level is 20 mug or over, an environmental assessment will be conducted by the Health Department.
Renovating a house or apartment built before 1980 and have a child(ren) under the age of 6?
Get a copy of the U.S. government booklet Reducing Lead Hazards When Remodeling Your Home by calling (800)424-LEAD. You can also get detailed information on safe ways to reduce and remove lead hazards.
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