June 19, 2024

Childhood lead poisoning – A silent threat

Lead poisoning is a significant health concern for young children. Lead harms a child’s nervous system and is associated with increased learning difficulties, reduced IQ, and behavioral problems. A lead poisoned child will not look or act sick. The only way to know if a child is lead poisoned is by testing.

Lead dust from chipping and peeling paint is the main source of lead exposure among children. Opening and closing windows painted with lead-based paint is a major source of lead dust in the home. Children can breathe in or swallow the lead dust when they put toys, pacifiers, or their hands in their mouths. While lead is no longer used in paint, it may still be found in homes built before 1978.

Some tips to keep your family lead-safe:

Lead Testing: Children should be tested for lead at the 1 year AND 2 year well child visits

Condition of paint: Paint used in houses built before 1978 likely contains lead. Keep paint intact (no chipping/peeling) or keep it covered with coats of fresh new paint

Home projects: Painting, scraping, and remodeling projects that expose old paint can create toxic dust. Learn about lead-safe practices before working on your home

Tidy up: Dust spreads lead. Wet-mop floors, wet wipe window sills, vacuum, dust, and wash surfaces often

Give the toys a bath: Dust can get on toys, pacifiers, bottles – anything kids put in their mouths (including their hands). Wash them regularly

Well fed: Feed your child foods with calcium, iron and Vitamin C – these nutrients help their bodies to absorb less lead

For more information, visit idph.iowa.gov/Environmental-Health-Services/Childhood-Lead-Poisoning-Prevention.