Information for Parents

Children may be exposed to lead in old paint, soil or other sources in their environment.  You can protect your family from lead poisoning by learning more about where lead is found and how to prevent exposure.  If your child has been exposed to lead, you can find out from a simple blood test at the doctor's office.

Most children with elevated blood lead levels will not have high enough exposure to cause physical symptoms, but are at risk for lowered IQ and hyperactivity and attention problems.  Higher blood lead levels can cause headaches, hearing loss, irritability, and abdominal pain.

How are children exposed to lead?

The main source of household lead exposure is from lead in paint, found in houses built before 1978.  Dust and flaking paint is a major source of lead for children.  Lead may be present in soil surrounding old buildings that were painted with lead paint, and close to roads, where lead from gasoline may have settled.

Lead may be in water in older homes where the pipes, fixtures, or solder may contain lead.  The Office of Drinking Water can provide further information about water quality in Virginia.

Some professions and hobbies may expose parents to lead, which can then be brought to the home on their clothing.  Visit our Information for Adults page for more information about these sources.

Many consumer products, including some toys, jewelry, imported spices, cosmetics, medicines, and old vinyl blinds, may include lead.

Traditional medicines that have been known to contain lead: 

  •  Ba-baw-san, Daw Tway, Greta, Azarcon, Ghasard, Paylooah, Bali Gholia, Kandu 

Traditional cosmetics that have been known to contain lead:

  • Sindoor, Kohl, Kajal, Surma

For more information about recalled products due to lead contamination, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

Is there lead in food?

Overall, food is not a major source lead.  However, there are a few food sources that can be a risk for lead exposure:

    • Some imported spices can contain lead, such as:
      • Kviteli kvavali, svanuri marili, kharcho suneli, utskho suneli, turmeric, curry, masala, and adjika.
    • Leafy greens grown in contaminated soil may be a source of lead from the dust
    • Hunting with lead shot can be a source of lead in meat

How can I keep my family safe from lead in the environment?

Simple prevention measures can keep you and your family safe from sources of lead in your home.  If you are pregnant, you should follow the same advice to avoid exposing yourself to lead, which can be passed on to your baby.

Keeping a clean environment by removing shoes when entering the house, by wet-wiping and wet-mopping (especially around window sills and house entrances), and by regularly washing children’s hands and toys can prevent lead exposure in older houses where lead paint has been used.  Prioritize cleaning areas of the home where children under the age of three spend their time.  Prevent children from playing in bare soil, and cover it by planting grass, or with mulch or wood chips.  Avoid planting gardens close to old structures or roads.  Wash children’s hands and change their clothes after playing outside to prevent bringing lead from soil into the house.

Running the water for about a minute before use, and using cold water to cook, drink, and mix baby formula with can help reduce exposure to lead if it is in your plumbing.

It is important to use lead-safe practices when doing renovations on older homes.  You can learn more about how to protect your family during home renovations at our page for homeowners.

Learn more about consumer goods that may have lead in them.

Adults who are exposed to lead through work or hobbies should take steps to avoid bringing lead into the home by:

  • Changing clothes immediately after coming home
  • Taking off shoes before entering the home
  • Washing hands before entering the house or interacting with children
  • Making sure children under 6 and pregnant women do not eat meat harvested with lead bullets.