By Ashley Dooley Wohlgemuth

By Ashley Dooley Wohlgemuth

A child can be exposed to lead through toys, candy, and even drinking water.

Click here to read the entire July 2019 newsletter

As a parent, watching your child grow and discover new things is one of life’s greatest treasures. But what happens when these new discoveries lead to potential harm? Young children are 4-5 times more likely to encounter lead poisoning than adults, especially as they begin putting toys, fingers and other objects in their mouths as part of normal development. While deemed an antiquated problem, lead poisoning still poses a risk to 25% of U.S. children.

Lead poisoning causes damage to the brain and nervous system, slows growth and development, and causes learning, behavior, hearing and speech problems.

In turn this can cause:

  • Lower IQ
  • Decreased ability to pay attention
  • Underperformance at school

The best way to protect children is to prevent lead exposure. Common household items that contain lead include:

  • Lead-based paint and dust that contains lead
  • Candy from outside the U.S.
  • Toys and toy jewelry made outside the U.S.
  • Pottery and ceramics
  • Drinking water contaminated by lead leaching from lead pipes, solder, brass fixtures, or valves
  • Consumer products, including tea kettles and vinyl miniblinds

Wondering if your child is at risk? Take these simple steps to ensure your home is lead-safe:

  • If your home was built before 1978, you can contact your local health department to have the paint and dust in your home tested.
  • Home renovations like sanding, cutting and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips by disturbing lead-based paint.
  • When renovating your home, have certified contractors, who have been trained by EPA-approved training providers, perform the renovations.
  • If you see paint chips or dust in windowsills or on floors, clean these areas regularly with a wet mop.
  • Wipe your feet on mats before entering the home, especially if you work in occupations where lead is used. Removing your shoes when you are entering the home is a good practice to control lead.
  • Remove recalled toys and toy jewelry from children. You can check current recalls by visiting the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Website.
  • Traditional home remedies such as azarcon and greta, which are often used for upset stomach or indigestion in Hispanic communities.

If you are concerned that your child has been exposed to lead, contact your child’s health care provider as the only way to test for lead levels is through a blood test.

In the past few years, the Center for Disease Control has lowered their recommendation of a safe level of lead in a child’s blood from 10 micrograms per deciliter to 5 micrograms per deciliter. The current level of 5 micrograms per deciliter means that more children will be identified as having lead exposure earlier and parents, doctors, public health officials and communities can take action earlier. For more information on lead poisoning you can visit the CDC’s website.

To contact our Children & Family Services department, email


Pin It on Pinterest