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.

Lead Exposure Risk by County

Every child is at risk of being exposed to lead. However, there are some areas in Virginia where the lead exposure risk is higher than other areas. Review the Lead Exposure Risk map to determine lead exposure risk in your area. Talk to your health care provider about getting your children tested for lead in their blood if:

  • you think they may have been exposed to lead
  • you live in a moderate, high, or very high risk area for lead exposure
  • your children are at high risk for lead exposure, regardless of where you live in Virginia

Lead Poisoning Prevention Information

How are children exposed to lead?

  • Paint. The main source of household lead exposure is from lead in paint, found in houses built before 1978.  Dust and flaking paint, especially around friction surfaces such as doorways and window sills, is a major source of lead for children.
  • Soil. 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. You child can become exposed to lead if they play in bare soil and put their hands and feet in their mouths.
  • Water. Lead may be in the water in older homes where the pipes, fixtures, or solder may contain lead.  The VDH  Office of Drinking Water can provide further information about water quality in Virginia.
  • Adult professions and hobbies. 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.
  • Consumer products. Many consumer products, including some toys, jewelry, imported spices, cosmetics, medicines, and old vinyl blinds, may include lead.
  • Traditional medicines. Some traditional medicines that have been known to contain lead include: 
      • Azarcon, Ba-baw-san, Bali Gholia, Daw Tway, Ghasard, Greta, Kandu, Paylooah
  • Traditional cosmetics. Some traditional cosmetics that have been known to contain lead include:
      • Kajal, Kohl, Sindoor, 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.

  • Keep a clean environment by removing shoes when entering the house
  • wet-wipe and wet-mop (especially around window sills and house entrances)
  • Regularly wash children’s hands and toys. This 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-contaminated soil into the house.
  • Run the water for about a minute before use, and use cold water to cook, drink, and mix baby formula. This can help reduce exposure to lead if it is in your plumbing and contaminating your water.

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.


Recall Information

Please browse the product recall details in the "Recall Details" tab to the right to learn:

  • What products are currently recalled
  • Recommendations for parents on next steps to take if the product has been purchased or is in use
  • Where and when the products were sold
  • CDC recommendations for health care providers

Recall information will be maintained on this website for one year.

Consumer Product Safety Commission