What is lead?
Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes.
What is Childhood Lead Poisoning?
Lead is toxic to the human body and young children are most susceptible to the toxic effects. Exposure to lead can cause learning difficulties, brain damage, damage to the kidneys and nervous system and even death. Unfortunately 1 in 14 Iowa children is lead-poisoned a number that is four times higher than the national average.
Could Your Child be Lead Poisoned?
Yes - a child may be suffering from lead poisoning without them looking or acting sick.
However, lead poisoned children may often exhibit the following characteristics:
- Easily excited
- Difficulty paying attention
- Complains of stomachaches and headaches
- More tired than usual
But, the only way to know for sure is by having your child’s blood lead tested. Children should have their blood tested at least once a year until they are 6 years old. A yearly test is very important because as children grow and become more active they are more likely to come in contact with some sources of lead.
What are some sources of lead?
Lead Based-Paint- Exposure to lead based-paint in poor condition, is the most common cause of lead poisoning in young children. Manufacturer’s added lead to paint because they found it was an effective way to increase the paint’s durability and its ability to cling to surfaces. Lead-based paint is no longer used, however, many homes built before 1978 may still contain lead based paint. Over 60% of all Iowa homes were built before 1960!
Children can be lead poisoned by:
- Putting dusty or dirty hands, toys, pacifiers, bottles in their mouths (Dust in older homes may contain lead from old paint)
- Chewing or eating lead-based paint chips
- Chewing on a surface painted with lead paint.
- Playing in dirt or sandbox near an old building or where one was torn down
- Breathing in dust created from the remodeling of a home where lead based paint had been used.
For more information about lead poisoning in general visit:
- IDPH Bureau of Lead Poisoning Prevention
- Centers for Disease Control
- The United States Environmental Protection Agency
Toys or Toy Jewelry Containing Lead- Young children often put objects in their mouths. When those objects contain lead, a child can suffer from lead poisoning. Some metal toy jewelry has been found to have unsafe levels of lead that can be dangerous to the health of children. Recently some toys have also been found to have lead in the paint used on them. The Consumer Product Safety Commission works to guide manufacturers to prevent the sale of toys discovered to have unsafe lead levels.
To find out more about lead in toys and toy recalls visit:
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)—Toy Hazards Recall List
Imported Candy - Some candies imported from Mexico have been found to contain lead. Lead is not deliberately added to such candies. Instead lead from the machinery producing the candy, storage, and packaging can contaminate the product.
People selling these candies may not know if the candy contains lead or not. You cannot tell if the candy contains lead by looking at it or tasting it.
Home Remedies - Some people use home remedies to help treat sick people. Some home remedies may contain ingredients that have been contaminated with lead. Use of such remedies may cause lead poisoning.
To read more about lead risks and home remedies visit:
- Iowa Department of Public Health
How can I protect my child from lead poisoning?
Refer back to Lead Poisoning: How to Protect Iowa Families to find out more.
- Test your child for lead poisoning.
- Check your home and other homes where your child visits for lead hazards.
- In you plan on remodeling or painting your older home consult a professional on how to do the work safely.
- Wash your child’s hands before meals and snacks. Wash your child’s pacifiers and toys often.
- Provide regular nutritious meals for your child. Simply stated children with empty stomachs absorb more lead than children with full stomachs. Also, eating a diet rich in minerals such as iron and calcium can help reduce lead absorption.
- To learn more visit: Fight Lead Poisoning with a Healthy Diet Document