Reducing lead exposure

The effects of lead exposure can be severe, especially for fetuses and young children. Lead exposure can slow physical and mental development, lower IQ levels and cause hearing loss, among other problems. Therefore, it is important to protect yourself and your family from lead's effects.

Following are some tips from the Environmental Protection Agency to help you reduce exposure to lead in your home:

  • If remodeling work is being performed in your home, keep the remodeling areas separate from the living areas by using barriers, an exhaust ventilation strategy and good work practices described in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Lead Paint Safety: A Field Guide for Painting, Home Maintenance and Renovation Work.
  • Keep areas where children play as dust-free and clean as possible. Mop floors and wipe window ledges and chewable surfaces with a solution of powdered automatic dishwasher detergent in warm water. Wash toys and stuffed animals regularly, and be sure children wash their hands.
  • Do not sand or burn off paint that may contain lead.
  • Scraping or sanding lead paint can generate large amounts of paint dust, so do not remove lead paint yourself. Consult your state health or housing department to find the appropriate agency or laboratory to test your home for lead in paint. Hire a person with special training to remove the lead-based paint.
  • Avoid bringing lead into your home from outside sources such as soil, clothes or hands that have been contaminated during construction, demolition, painting, etc. If you are remodeling a portion of your home, do not track dust through the rest of your house.
  • Test your drinking water. Although most well or city water does not contain lead, water can pick up lead inside the home from household plumbing made with lead materials. Contact your local health department or water supplier to find out how to get your water tested.
  • Eat right. Children will absorb less lead if they eat foods rich in iron—such as eggs, red meat and beans—and calcium—such as dairy products. Do not store food or liquid in lead crystal glassware or imported or old pottery.

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This Web exclusive information is a supplement to Safe Solutions.