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 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 your and your children’s 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. A good resource is this guide.
9. Find out if you live in an area where soils are contaminated with lead through King County Dirt Alert.
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 their use.
14. Avoid products recalled by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) because of lead. These recalls can be found here.
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 https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/all-around/Pages/Lead-Screening-for-Children.aspx
- Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): A list of any recalled products, which may include products recalled because of lead: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/
- National Center for Healthy Housing: Detailed information on helping to minimize lead exposure, including simple steps like regularly cleaning/wiping surfaces: http://www.nchh.org/What-We-Do/Health-Hazards–Prevention–and-Solutions/Lead.aspx
- Environmental Protection Agency: A guide for lead-safe home renovations: https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/renovateright.pdf
Washington State Resources
- Washington State Department of Health: Education on lead risks and how to reducethem in your home: http://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/HealthyHome/Contaminants/Lead
- Washington State Department of Health: Interactive map to explore lead risk by area: https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/wtn/WTNIBL/
PUBLIC HEALTH – SEATTLE & KING COUNTY:
- Information and resources from the Health Department, including how they will helpif a child has a high blood lead level: http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/environmental-health/toxins-air-quality/arsenic-lead/about-lead.aspx
- Educational brochures and posters on how to reduce exposure to lead and arsenic: http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/environmental-health/toxins-air-quality/arsenic-lead/posters-brochures.aspx
- King County contact information: http://blue.kingcounty.gov/about/contact/http://www.kingcounty.gov/services/customer-service.aspx
- Information on areas impacted by the Tacoma-area former smelter and what to do about it: http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/environmental-health/toxins-air-quality/arsenic-lead/tacoma-smelter-plume.aspx
KING COUNTY HOUSING AUTHORITY:
- A directory of home repair resources and programs throughout King County: https://www.kcha.org/wr/repair/
- Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Information and education on lead prevention,and a contact telephone number: http://www.tpchd.org/environment/healthy-environment/lead/
- Information on a home repair program for Pierce County: https://www.co.pierce.wa.us/1283/Home-Repairs
- Dirt Alert: This resource is specifically for areas impacted by the former smelter, including special services: https://dirtalert.info/toxicfreefuture.org