Where does the lead come from?
The most common source is dust in homes where lead-based paint was used prior to being banned in 1978. Also, soil near roads contains lead dust from automobile exhaust deposited before leaded gasoline was phased out in 1984. People track this soil into homes where children play on the floor, and sometimes children play in bare soil contaminated with lead. Other potential sources of lead exposure may exist in homes, but these two sources are the most common.
Why do you target children under age six?
At this age a child’s brain is still developing. During this time, low levels of lead can interfere with normal brain development, resulting in permanently reduced IQ and behavioral problems. This is also the age during which hand-to-mouth activity is a child’s way of exploring, and children spend more time crawling on the floor where they can pick up dust containing lead on their hands.
What damage does lead poisoning cause in young children?
Health effects can include reduced IQ, hyperactivity, reduced stature, reduced hearing, and headaches.
What about adults and older children? Can’t they be lead poisoned too?
Yes, but the amount of lead that would have to be ingested or inhaled by an adult or older child is much greater than that needed to cause damage to a child under age six.
What can I do to prevent lead poisoning in my home?
If your child is at risk, have your young children tested for lead, even if they seem healthy. Wash children’s hands before eating, bedtime, and naptime and after playing. Wash children’s bottles, pacifiers, and favorite toys at least daily. Make sure children eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet. Have your home checked for lead hazards. Clean floors, windowsills, and other surfaces at least weekly, using wet cleaning methods. Wipe soil off shoes before entering house. Repair surfaces with peeling or chipping paint. Take precautions to avoid exposure to lead dust when remodeling or renovating. Don’t use a belt-sander, propane torch, dry scraper, or dry sandpaper on painted surfaces that may contain lead.