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Lead: Protecting Children from Lead Poisoning

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Published on Jan 23, 2014

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are at least 4 million households that have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. The CDC goes on to report that there are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which the agency recommends public health actions be initiated.

Children under the age of 6 years old are at high risk because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands or other objects, which may be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths.

Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. The goal is to prevent lead exposure to children before they are harmed. One of the most important things is to find out whether there is any lead-based paint or other sources of lead where you live or where your children play or visit often.

If a home was built before 1978, it may contain lead-based paint. It is the deterioration of this paint that causes a significant problem. Fortunately, there are ways to test for lead and there professionals who are trained to remove any lead-based paint hazards that are found.

Tips from the CDC to prevent exposure to lead include the following:

• Make sure children do not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
• Children and pregnant women should not be present in homes built before 1978 that are undergoing renovations.
• Create barriers between living and play areas from any lead sources until the hazard has been resolved. Until environmental clean-up is completed, you should clean and isolate all sources of lead. Close and lock doors to keep children away from chipping or peeling paint on walls. You can also apply temporary barriers such as contact paper or duct tape, to cover holes in walls or to block children's access to other sources of lead.
• Regularly wash children's hands and toys because they can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil. Both are known lead sources.
• Regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window components. Because household dust is a major source of lead, you should wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces regularly. Windowsills and wells can also contain high levels of leaded dust. They should be kept clean. Take off shoes when entering a house to prevent bringing lead-contaminated soil in from outside.
• Prevent children from playing in bare soil where lead hazards may exist. Plant grass on areas of bare soil or cover the soil with mulch or wood chips.

These are just a few things to know about lead and preventing exposure to children. To learn more about this or other health and safety, indoor air quality, occupational or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown in the video.

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