How to reduce your exposure to toxic lead
Children in at least 4 million U.S. homes are currently being exposed to high levels of lead. Exposure to lead can cause lifelong negative health effects in children, including brain damage and developmental delays.
It’s very difficult to avoid every lead exposure because the chemical is used in so many things. We need policymakers to adopt policies to reduce kids’ exposure to lead and address disparities in lead exposures. We also need companies to stop using lead in their products.
But until the laws are changed and disparities are addressed, here are a few tips that can help you reduce your family’s exposure to toxic lead.
1. Talk to your doctor about testing your child’s blood lead level.
2. Keep children away from peeling or chipping paint in buildings built before 1978. Cover peeling or chipping paint with contact paper or duct tape until it is safely removed.
3. If you rent your home and it was built before 1978 and has peeling or chipping paint, consider talking to your landlord about it. When your home is remodeled, repainted, or repaired, be sure it is done safely and according to EPA guidelines.
4. Damp dust and vacuum your home often. Vacuum with a HEPA filter, if possible.
5. Wash hands regularly.
6. Take your shoes off when you come inside your home.
7. Run tap water until it is as cold as it will get before cooking, drinking, or making baby formula.
8. Eat a balanced, healthy diet that includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein foods, and dairy products. Check out this resource as a helpful guide.
9. Find out if you live in an area where soils are contaminated with lead.
10. Wash soil off your hands after gardening or playing outside and consider setting up play areas that don’t have exposed soil for your children.
11. If you are exposed to lead at work or through your art or hobbies, wear the proper protective equipment, and change clothes and wash up before coming home. Follow our other tips for art supplies.
12. Wash children’s toys and pacifiers often and give children only toys and art supplies made for their age group.
13. Use caution before using products from outside the US such as folk remedies, candy, spices, cosmetics, or ceramic dishware. These products may contain lead; consider avoiding use.
14. Avoid products recalled by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) because of lead. For more information, visit the CPSC website on recalls.
- American Academy of Pediatricians’ Healthy Children (From the American Academy of Pediatricians): Education and simple steps to lower lead risk, such as eating a diet high in calcium and iron.
- Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): A list of any recalled products, which may include products recalled because of lead.
- National Center for Healthy Housing: Detailed information on helping to minimize lead exposure, including simple steps like regularly cleaning/wiping surfaces.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): A guide for lead-safe home renovations.
Washington State Resources
Local Resources in Washington State
PUBLIC HEALTH – SEATTLE & KING COUNTY
- Health Department information and resources, including how they will help if a child has a high blood lead level.
- Educational brochures and posters on how to reduce exposure to lead and arsenic.
- Information on areas impacted by the Tacoma-area former smelter and what to do about it.
KING COUNTY HOUSING AUTHORITY
- Home repair resources directory and programs throughout King County.