Childhood lead poisoning can be prevented. It is a common but entirely preventable environmental health problem. The most important thing you can do to protect your child is to find and remove lead as soon as possible.
Lead is a toxic metal. Whether it is inhaled or swallowed, lead is harmful to the body. Lead can cause serious damage to the brain over time. It is especially harmful to young children. The harm done by lead may never go away. Even low levels of exposure can cause health problems in children.
Learn about the many ways to reduce your child’s exposure to lead before they are harmed. If you think your child has been in contact with lead, get treatment. Ask your doctor for a lead test.
The most important step you can take is to prevent lead exposure before it occurs.
To learn more, check out our information on:
Learn about childhood lead poisoning
Lead poisoning is serious and sometimes fatal. It is especially dangerous to unborn children and those under 6 years of age. Because their bodies are small and growing, babies and young children are at the greatest risk..
- What is lead poisoning?
- How will I know if my child has lead poisoning?
- How do children get lead poisoning?
- Common myths about lead poisoning
- How do I make sure my child's toys are safe?
What is lead poisoning?
Lead poisoning happens when lead is inhaled or swallowed. Once it gets inside, lead is distributed through the body, causing harm wherever it goes. The damage it causes does not go away. Lead poisoning affects nearly every system. It can:
- Hurt the brain, kidneys, and nervous system
- Slow down growth and development
- Make it hard to learn
- Damage hearing and speech
- Cause behavior problems
For pregnant women, exposure can harm both the fetus and the mother. If you or someone you know is pregnant, learn more about what you can do to prevent lead poisoning during pregnancy.
How will I know if my child has lead poisoning?
Many children with lead poisoning may not look, act, or feel sick. The only way to know if your child has lead poisoning is through a lead test. Ask your healthcare provider. He or she can help you and can recommend treatment if your child has been exposed.
Remember: prevention is the optimal treatment. Taking some simple precautions can help protect you and your family from lead exposure before harm is done.
How do children get lead poisoning?
Children are exposed to lead from different sources. This includes:
- At Home: In Nevada, homes built before 1978 may have lead paint or tiles on the inside and outside of the building. When these paints or tiles age and peel or crack, it creates lead dust. Home repairs and renovations can create lead dust too. Toddlers who are learning to crawl may ingest or breathe it in when they put their hands or toys into their mouths.
- Work and Hobbies: Family members may expose children to lead dust or bring it into the home if they work with metal, paint, pigments or glazes that contain lead.
- Everyday products: Several consumer products including health remedies, foods, jewelry, toys, and other items have been found to contain lead. The more often they are used, the greater the health risk.
Common myths about lead poisoning
Thanks to scientific research we know a lot more about lead than we used to. However, there are still many myths about lead poisoning. Below are the most common myths that prevent children from being properly protected from lead.
Myth - Children have to eat paint chips or chew on painted surfaces to get lead poisoning.
Fact - While dust from lead paint is a common way of getting lead poisoning, it is not the only way. Lead dust forms from old paint and can cover surfaces and objects. Children swallow this dust when they put their hands or toys in their mouths, which is normal behavior for young children.
There are many imported products and everyday products that are made with lead. Children can get lead poisoning from playing with or putting things like keys. imported toys, candies, cosmetics, and folk remedies in their mouths.
Myth – Only children with very high levels of lead in their blood will be affected.
Fact - Even low levels of exposure can cause long-term health problems in children.
Myth - Only children in other cities or in other states are in danger of getting lead poisoning. Lead is not a problem in Nevada.
Fact - Lead poisoning crosses all racial, geographic, and economic lines. Lead paint can be in any home built before 1978 and there is a lot of older housing across Nevada. Many common items can contain lead.
Myth - A child who seems healthy, active, and shows no symptoms is not lead poisoned.
Fact - Children who seem perfectly normal and healthy may still be lead poisoned. Damage to the brain and nervous system can be subtle. The effects may not be noticed until the child enters school.
Myth - Lead poisoning is not a real problem. Many people grew up in homes with lead paint and are perfectly healthy.
Fact - Many people who have grown up in homes with lead paint may have experienced subtle damage to the brain and nervous system. There are no symptoms of moderate lead poisoning, so no one would know they were in danger.
A significant number of these people may experience undiagnosed lead poisoning. Learning, behavior, and attention problems are all effects of lead poisoning.
How do I make sure my child's toys are safe?
Explore the CPSC Website to See How They Help Keep Your Home Safe!
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is a clearinghouse for child safety, including lead safety, for a range of products like toys, furniture, strollers, and things children might interact with. Search for products you are considering buying or have in your home or view their guides for buying safely.
Product Search: Search for products you own or are interested in buying to ensure they are safe.
Product Recalls: Lead: View products that have been recalled for violating manufacturing regulations or are otherwise contaminated with lead.
Safety Guides : Browse safety guides to keep your family healthy and safe whatever stage of life you are in. From bikes and playgrounds to prescription and fire safety, the CPSC has you covered.
Toy Recall Statistics: Learn about how products are recalled and the likelihood of product recalls to help guide your purchasing habits.
Safer Spaces for Baby: As you look to ensure your baby is safe from lead poisoning, consider some easy changes you can make at home to keep your baby safe.
Buying Safer Toys Videos: These short and entertaining videos can help you keep safety in mind while buying toys.
Things to Look For While Buying Toys: This quick reference guide will help you spot unsafe toys to avoid bringing them home
Neighborhood Safety Network: Join the CPSC in promoting safety in your neighborhood by rallying your street to focus on where safety starts: at home.. Back To Top
Learn about lead testing and what the results mean
Every child should be tested at 12 and 24 months or at least once before age 6.
- What is a lead test?
- When should a child have a lead test?
- Where can I go to have my child tested?
- My child had a lead test. What does this blood lead level mean?
What is a lead test?
A lead test is a simple blood test. A few drops of blood is used to measure how much lead is inside your child’s blood.
There are two ways blood samples are taken:
• Capillary – from the fingertip
• Venous – from the arm
If your child has a blood lead level above 5 ug/dL (micrograms per decileter) and the test was done using blood from your child’s finger, you must have a second test with a venous sample done as soon as you can, but no more than 3 months after the first test..
When should a child have a lead test?
- The first test at 12 months of age
- The second at 24 months of age
- One test between the ages of 3 and 6 years, if not previously tested
Where can I go to have my child tested?
Testing is simple and can be done by your child’s doctor or at a lab with a referral from your child's doctor. Your child should be tested at ages 12 months and 24 months.
If your child is under 6 and has not had a lead test, ask your healthcare provider to test your child.
Testing is free for Medicaid and Nevada Check Up beneficiaries and is covered by most insurance companies.
Las Vegas Blood Lead Screening Clinic
Blood lead testing is also available in Las Vegas at the Southern Nevada Health District's main facility at 280 S. Decatur Blvd on Wednesdays from 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. for children between the ages of 1 and 5 years old.
If you are uninsured, testing is $20. Appointments are not needed. For additional information, call (702) 759-1000 or click here to visit the SNHD website..
My child had a lead test. What does this blood lead level mean?
Test results are usually given in micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood or µg/dL.
There is no "safe" level of lead. While a small amount of lead may be found in most children (under 5 µg/dL) it is important to keep blood levels as low as possible.
A high test result using blood from a fingertip (capillary) should be checked again with a second test using blood taken from a vein (venous). If the second result is still high, you should follow the steps below:
If your child’s blood lead level is…
0.0 – 4.9 µg/dL
5.0 – 9.9 µg/dL
Your child has a little more lead than most children. Go to all follow-up appointments. Your doctor will need to monitor your child’s lead level. Talk to your doctor about ways to identify and reduce lead.
10.0 – 44.9 µg/dL
Your doctor and local health department can help you identify sources of lead and ways to protect your child.
Your child will need to be tested again.
45 µg/dL or higher
Get IMMEDIATE care.
This is considered serious lead poisoning.
Your child may need to undergo chelation therapy
Children are exposed to lead from many different sources.
This information can help you lower your child's risk of exposure by learning how to find and identify possible sources of lead and how to remove them. Some work, such as lead home remediation, must be done by lead-certified professionals..
There are many common and non-traditional sources of lead.
Lead is a dangerous and toxic metal. Whether it is inhaled or swallowed, lead is harmful to the body and can cause serious damage to the brain over time. It is especially harmful to young children.
Your local health department may be able to help you identify sources of lead exposure. Call your local health department for more information.
Homes Built Before 1978
Whether you rent or own, be aware of any lead hazards in your home.
Common lead hazards include:
- Lead-based paint can be found in many homes built before 1978. Lead paint is dangerous when it begins to chip, flake, or wear. This creates a lead dust hazard that can contaminate nearby surfaces inside the home or exposed soil outside.
- Lead dust can form from lead paint. This dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can re-enter the air be breathed in when the home is vacuumed or swept.
- Soil can become contaminated from lead paint flakes and dust. Young children playing with soil may ingest lead as a result of natural hand-to-mouth activity. Any vegetable growing in a garden of contaminated soil may also have absorbed and taken up lead.
- Water can also be a source of lead poisoning. Homes with old plumbing systems may have lead in their pipes, fixtures and solder. Even new ones may have lead as legally "lead-free" plumbing may contain up to eight percent lead. Lead can leach into the household water supply when pipes corrode, becoming a hazard when this water is used for daily activities, such as brushing your teeth.
What you can do if you suspect you might have lead in your home:
If you suspect that you might have lead-based paint on your walls, use a wet cloth to wipe dust from windowsills and walls. Watch out for damage that can make paint chip and keep young children away from deteriorating paint. Hold off on any renovations. It is best to consult a professional to have your home tested, especially because other precautions might be needed to contain the lead in the paint.
To reduce exposure to lead dust, it is especially important to maintain all painted surfaces in good condition, and to clean frequently. Use wet scrubbing or steam cleaning methods for carpets, rugs, and damp mops for bare floors. Otherwise, use only vacuums with HEPA filters.
To avoid bringing contaminated soil into your home, children and adults should remove their shoes before entering the house and wash their hands after working and playing outside. Check the areas where your children play for buildings or play structures with peeling paint. If you grow a garden, have your soil tested and avoid planting vegetables close to the house or any painted structure.
If you suspect that you might have a lead contamination in your water system, take the following precautions: avoid using hot water for brushing your teeth, drinking, or cooking. Hot water causes lead to dissolve more quickly and boiling it will remove the lead. Use an alternative water source whenever possible or use cold water only. If the water from the cold faucet has not been run for several hours, let it run for at least one to two minutes before use. The longer water has been sitting in the pipes, the more lead it can absorb.Back To Top
Work and Hobbies
Do you work or have a hobby that uses lead? Did you know that you could be bringing this toxic metal home on your clothes, shoes, skin, hair, and hands? Taking home lead dust can cause lead poisoning in children and other family members.
Common jobs with lead exposure include:
|Ironworker||Metal shop worker|
|Construction worker||Stained glass artist|
|Cable splicer||Battery manufacturing|
What you can do to prevent taking lead dust home:
- Wash your hands regularly, especially before eating, drinking, smoking, or touching anything you will take home with you.
- Change your work clothes and shoes before entering your car or going home.
- Clean your lead-exposed clothes separately and safely from regular laundry.
Lead in Everyday Products
Many products, especially items imported from other countries, may contain lead. It is an incredibly useful metal that is resistant to corrosion and very malleable. While it has many uses in everyday products, it is especially toxic to children. Teach your child proper hand washing techniques and to avoid eating, playing with, or using the following items:
|Non-traditional source||Where's the lead?||What you can do|
Some non-glossy, vinyl mini-blinds manufactured in foreign countries contain lead. Exposure to the ultra-violet rays in sunlight deteriorates the vinyl, causing lead-contaminated dust to accumulate. Surfaces near such blinds such as windowsills, furniture, and carpet may contain hazardous levels of lead dust.
Replace older (pre-1997) vinyl and imported mini blinds from your home. Once the blinds are removed, make sure the replacements are lead-free. The blinds may be labeled “No Lead Added” or “Non-Leaded Formula”. You may also choose to replace the blinds with new metal blinds, new wood blinds or other window coverings. Carefully clean up any dust in the area using wet cleaning techniques.
Ceramic flatware from developing countries such as traditional pottery and homemade craft products may be lead-glazed. Lead may leach into foods or liquids that have been stored or served in ceramics, pottery, china, or crystal containing lead.
No amount of washing, or boiling can remove lead from pottery, china, ceramics, or crystal.
Always check for a warning label. If a container was made to use only as a decorative item, it may have a warning stamped onto the bottom such as “Not for Food Use—May Poison Food.” Do not use it for cooking, serving, or storing food or drinks.
If you suspect or are unsure whether your container contains lead, do not use it to store or serve food or drinks. Use them for decoration only.
Lead has been found in inexpensive children's jewelry and toys sold in vending machines and large volume discount stores across the country. It has also been found in inexpensive metal amulets worn for good luck or protection. Some costume jewelry designed for adults has also been found to contain lead.
It is important to make sure that children don't handle or put any toys and jewelry in their mouths.
Children prone to placing these items in their mouths are at risk to dangerous levels of lead.
Be cautious about buying inexpensive jewelry and toys for children - especially when shopping in-store or on-line when no information is provided as to where and how the jewelry or toys were made.
Some traditional, folk, or homeopathic medicines contain lead. These products are often are often imported from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, India, the Dominican Republic, or Mexico.
Homeopathic medicines known to contain lead include Ayurvedic Medicines, Daw Tway, Bhasma, Smrti, Ba-baw-san, Ghasard, Greta, and Azarcon.
You cannot tell if a something has lead by looking at or tasting it.
Before giving any traditional, folk, or homeopathic medicine to your child, consult your child's healthcare provider.
Certain imported candies, foods, and spices, especially from Mexico, containing chili or tamarind may contain lead.
Lead can be found in the candy itself, in wrappers or pottery containers, and in certain ethnic foods, such as chapulines (dried grasshoppers).
Avoid giving your child imported candy or snacks, especially those containing chili or tamarind.
Traditional eye cosmetics such as Surma or Kohl often contain high levels of lead. For example, lead, usually in the form of lead sulfide, sometimes accounts for more than half the weight of kohl products.
Help your children avoid using kohl and surma. Keeping kohl and similar products out of your home and away from your children is the surest way to keep them safe.
Most keys such as house and car keys contain lead. While some may be made of stainless steel, many house keys and other types usually contain lead since it allows the metal to be formed easily. Brass keys are often up to 2% lead.
Keys are not an appropriate toy for children. While some parents give keys to their children to occupy them while the parents are busy shopping or doing chores, offer them a safer alternative.
Never allow a child to play with car or house keys. Bring play keys or another toy for them instead.
The majority of sinkers and fishing weights are made of solid lead.
Children may put fishing sinkers in their mouths or handle tackle boxes, and fishing gear contaminated by lead sinkers, then eat or put their hands in their mouths.
As an angler, be careful when using lead sinkers and never leave them unattended near a child. Consider using other sinkers, made from non-toxic materials. Some alternatives include brass, tungsten, steel, and bismuth.
Hunters who use lead bullets or shot, and their families, are at risk of lead poisoning in several ways: ingesting lead shot pellets or lead bullet fragments or residues in game meat, ingesting lead residue from handling lead bullets, or inhaling airborne lead during ammunition reloading or at shooting ranges.
- Las Vegas Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program
If you live in the Las Vegas area, the Las Vegas Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program and offers FREE lead inspections and FREE repairs to the home if lead is found. For more information and to find out if you qualify, download and view this Program Flyer or contact Earlie King with the City of Las Vegas at 702-229-5935 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Back To Top
Learn about general healthy habits, cleaning tips, and proper nutrition to keep your child safe from lead poisoning.
Besides finding and removing lead from your home, simple measures can help protect you and your family from lead poisoning..
Healthy Habits to Keep Your Child Safe
Wash your child’s hands often and their toys and pacifiers after use Wash work clothes separately, if a family member works with lead. Wash surfaces with a damp cloth when dusting. Wash floors with a wet mop, and wash windowsills twice weekly, with all-purpose detergent.
Prevent children from putting their hands and toys in their mouth. Prevent children from playing in dirt. Prevent children from being near remodeling projects. Prevent children from eating imported candies and snacks.
Make sure to use cold water for cooking, drinking and baby formula. Make cold water run for 1 minute before using. Make sure to leave shoes at the door before entering the home. Make children’s food high in iron and calcium..
Cleaning Tips For Lead Dust
Lead dust can come from chipping and peeling paint. It can also enter your home from the outside. You can control how much lead dust is created or enters your home by using the wet cleaning method, having people remove their shoes before coming indoors, and picking up paint chips you find on the floor, inside windows, or in other places where your children play.
To clean properly, use soap and water to wash anything that may have come in contact with lead. Click here to download an infographic of tips to clean lead chips and dust in your home!
The following tips on wet cleaning can help reduce the spread of lead dust. Make sure to clean ONE room at a time. When finished with one room, empty all buckets. Repeat these steps until done:.
1. Proceed safely
⋅ Wear rubber gloves while cleaning
⋅ Keep children away while cleaning.
2. Use Wet Cleaning
This method reduces the spread of lead dust. For shelves, start at the highest point and work your way down. For floors, start at the farthest corner and work your way to the door. You will need a rag or mop and three separate buckets: one with warm soapy water, one with plain water, and one empty bucket.
1. Using SOAPY water, wipe surface with a rag or mop.
2. RINSE with plain water.
3. Squeeze water out of the rag or mop into an EMPTY bucket
4. Repeat until room is clean
5. Wet clean everything regularly
3. Vacuum with HEPA
Rugs can be steam cleaned or washed in a washing machine. DO NOT WASH WITH OTHER CLOTHES OR LINENS. .
Prevention Through Nutrition
A healthy diet can protect children from lead poisoning by decreasing lead absorption:
- Offer 4-6 snacks or meals every day. A child with a full stomach is less likely to absorb lead.
- A child who eats enough iron, calcium, vitamin C and protein will absorb less lead.
- Keep fat intake low. Offer healthy snacks like fruit, vegetable sticks (maybe with peanut butter, iron fortified cereal or bread, cheese or pudding instead of candy or chips.
Be sure to wash your hands and your child’s hands before preparing, handling, or eating food..
Foods high in iron and protein
- Lean red meat, chicken, liver, or fish
- Dried beans, peas or lentils
- Leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach
- Fortified cereals and breads
- Peanuts, sunflower seeds
- Dried fruits, such as raisins, prunes and apricot
Foods high in vitamin C
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Bell peppers, collards, tomatoes, raw cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and greens
- Potatoes with skins and sweet potatoes
- Strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe
Foods high in calcium
- Leafy green vegetables, such as kale, collard greens, turnip greens
- Milk, cheese, yogurt, ice milk, pudding
- Peanuts and peanut butter
- Salmon and sardines
- Calcium enriched soy milk
- Dried fruits and raisins
Avoid high fat foods: (Bake or broil your food)
- Fried foods, such as French fries or potato chips
- Sausage, bacon, lunch meats like bologna
- Margarine, butter, shortening, lard or cooking oil
- Cakes, pies, pancakes
Prevent lead poisoning. Start now.
Lead can pass from a pregnant woman's placenta to her unborn baby or through breast milk while breastfeeding. If you had lead poisoning when you were younger, you may still have lead in your body..
Lead is extremely harmful for developing nervous systems.
Too much lead in the body can put you at risk for miscarriage or premature delivery. Lead can hurt your baby's brain, kidneys, and nervous system and cause your child to have learning or behavior problems.
Are you at risk for lead poisoning?
You and your family may be more likely to have lead in your bodies if:
- You live or work in an older (pre-1978) home or apartment that has had renovation or repair work done.
- You work with or live with someone who works with lead (auto repair, construction, home renovation, mining, firearms, etc).
- You have or live with someone who has a hobby that involves lead (shooting, ceramics, jewelry, etc).
- You were born, or have spent any time outside of the United States.
- You use spices, foods, herbal products or supplements that may have lead in them such as Greta or Azarcon.
- You use imported ceramics to cook and prepare food and drink.
- You use imported eye cosmetics like kohl or surma.
- You eat nonfood items, like clay or dirt. This is called pica.
If you can answer "yes" or "don't know" to any of these risks, it is time to ask for a blood lead test.
Now is the time to keep your baby safe.
Following these guidelines can help you and your baby prevent lead poisoning.. Back To Top