Approximately 250,000 U.S. children aged 1-5 years have blood lead levels greater than the level at which the CDC recommends public health actions be initiated.
Why is lead so dangerous?
Lead is a highly toxic metal that has been used in paints and other home products for many years. Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are the main sources of lead exposure in children. Babies and children under age 6 are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, since they often put their hands–and objects that could contain lead dust–in their mouths. Their growing bodies absorb more lead than adult bodies. Young brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead, which can range from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and even death.
Simple precautions like cleaning and maintaining danger spots and making sure your family gets a well-balanced diet can help prevent lead poisoning.
- Use only cold water to prepare food and drinks.
- Flush all water outlets used for drinking or food preparation.
- Clean debris out of all outlet screens or aerators on faucets on a regular basis.
- Keep your home clean and dust-free.
- Wipe up any paint chips or visible dust with a wet sponge or rag. Dust regularly around areas where there is friction and dust can be generated, such as doors, windows, and drawers.
- Wash children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers and toys often.
- Teach children to wipe and remove their shoes and wash hands after playing outdoors.
- Make sure your family members eat well-balanced meals. Lead interferes with some of the body’s basic functions. Our bodies can’t tell the difference between lead and calcium, which is a mineral that strengthens bones. Children with healthy diets absorb less lead.