According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no safe blood lead level in children has been identified and at least 4 million households in the United States have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead.
Common Ways Children Can Come in Contact with Lead
Young children often put toys, fingers, and other objects in their mouth as part of their normal development. This may put them in contact with lead paint or dust.
One common way children can be exposed to lead are chips and particles of old lead paint. Children can be directly exposed to lead from paint if they swallow paint chips. But exposure is more common from swallowing house dust or soil contaminated by leaded paint. This happens when lead paint chips get ground into tiny bits that become part of the dust and soil in and around homes; for example, when leaded paint is old or worn or is subject to constant rubbing (as on doors and windowsills and wells). In addition, lead can be scattered when paint is disturbed during destruction, remodeling, paint removal, or preparation of painted surfaces for repainting.
Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health.
Lead paint or dust are not the only ways children can come in contact with lead. Thirty percent of lead-poisoned children in certain areas may have been poisoned by other sources. These sources include
- traditional home health remedies such as azarcon and greta, which are used for upset stomach or indigestion in the Hispanic community;
- imported candies;
- imported toys and toy jewelry;
- imported cosmetics;
- pottery and ceramics;
- drinking water contaminated by lead leaching from lead pipes, solder, brass fixtures, or valves; and
- consumer products, including tea kettles and vinyl miniblinds.
A variety of work and hobby activities expose adults to lead, including using an indoor firing range, making home repairs, remodeling a home, and making pottery. When adults whose jobs expose them to lead wear their work clothes home or wash them with the family laundry, their families can be exposed to lead. Families can also be exposed when adults bring scrap or waste material home from work.