Childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children. Young children are most susceptible to the harmful effects of lead exposure because they are still growing and developing.
Many young children spend a lot of time in child care, which makes reducing the risk of exposure to lead in child care facilities a high priority. Preventing exposure to lead is an important way to keep those children healthy and safe in their home away from home. This page provides information and resources for child care providers on lead poisoning prevention to ensure the safety of the children in their care.
The VDH CLPPP has developed a variety of educational materials to inform the public on important lead poisoning prevention information. To browse, access, and utilize these materials, please visit our educational materials webpage.
Exposure to lead in young children can cause:
- Damage to the brain and nervous system
- Hearing and speech problems
- Attention and behavior problems
- Delayed growth and development
Over time, these health issues can lead to…
- Decreased IQ
- Inability to pay attention
- Decreased performance in school
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Ways to Prevent Lead Exposure in Children
1. Wash toys often
Young children often put their toys in their mouth while playing. Washing toys often can remove lead residue from the outside of toys and prevent children from accidentally ingesting it while they are playing. Old and antique toys are common source of lead exposure, so it may be best to keep those toys away from young children altogether.
2. Make sure all children wash their hands before eating
Washing hands well before eating all snacks and meals will prevent children from ingesting any lead they may have gotten on their hands while playing outside or while crawling on their hands and knees. The CDC has some excellent graphics and posters to encourage good hand washing hygiene. To browse and/or access their materials, visit this page: Handwashing Health Promotion Materials
3. Wipe down counters, tables, and food preparation areas daily
Lead dust can settle on countertops, tables, and food preparation areas. Wiping down these areas daily with a wet cloth can remove lead dust before it gets into food or onto children's hands.
4. Wet wipe and wet mop floors, baseboards, and entryways weekly
Areas with high traffic and friction (such as a door rubbing against the floor or the doorway) can create lead dust and chip away at lead paint, leaving behind small flakes that children may accidentally ingest. Wet wiping and wet mopping these areas weekly can reduce the risk of children coming into contact with any of these possible exposure sources of lead.
Child Care Provider Resources for Renovation, Repair, or Painting
Most buildings built before 1978 contain lead paint. Dust from lead paint, due to normal wear and tear or due to renovations, can expose the children in your child care facility to lead. If your facility is in an older house, routine maintenance can keep the paint intact, reducing exposure to lead dust and paint chips. If you plan to upgrade or renovate your child care facility, make sure to use safe renovation practices to protect the children in your care from lead exposure. Doing renovations without proper precautions can expose everyone in the facility to high levels of lead. Activities such as scraping old paint or removing it with a heat gun can produce dangerous lead dust, chips and fumes.
The EPA & HUD have some excellent resources for Renovation, Repair, or Painting (RRP)
- EPA Website: Renovation, Repair and Painting Program: Do-It-Yourselfers
- EPA Steps to Lead Safe Renovation, Repair, and Painting
- HUD Lead Paint Safety
- EPA Child Care Provider Lead Safety Brochure
- EPA Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right
If you think there is lead in your child care facility, please visit our Referrals and Partnerships page for abatement and remediation resources.