Lead and Your Child’s Health

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?

A picture of a young hispanic girl named Isabella waving at you. There is a caption beneath her that reads 'Lead Impacts on the Human Body'. Red dots show the impacted areas on her body and the symptoms that relate to them. Brain: dizziness, headaches, lower I.Q.'s, learning disabilities, low impulse control, and concentration problems.  Stomach: nausea and stomach aches. Kidney: kidney problems. Reproductive system: reproductive problems. Ears: hearing damage. Also: nerve disorders and muscle and joint pain. Lead is a toxic metal. It is especially dangerous for children and pregnant women, but it harms everyone. It is extremely damaging to the body.

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 by asking your provider for a blood 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.

Sources of Lead Exposure include water, soil, dust, paint, toys, stained glass, keys, imported candy, homes built before 1978, imported pottery, make-up, and certain vinyl mini blinds.


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 containing 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 – Research shows that 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 that is not outwardly noticeable. 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 even moderate 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 Research and 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.

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