Avoid Lead Poisoning of Your Children

Source: Erie County Department of Health

Could This Be Your Child?
Jamir is playing with his cars on the floor… Shakara is looking out the window… Enzo and Noah are playing on the front porch… Becky is putting money in a vending machine to get a necklace … Daejon is giving his dad a big hug when he comes home after work…

What Do All Of These Children Have In Common?
They are all doing something that puts them at high risk for lead poisoning. Few children actually eat paint chips. Most of the lead poisoning is caused by the dust that they breathe in or suck off their hands and fingers. Lead dust is caused by friction, such as the opening and closing of windows and doors, walking on lead-painted stairs, floors, or porches and running of hands over a lead-painted handrail.

Toddlers are at the highest risk because of both their hand to mouth activity, and the fact that their lungs and brain cannot filter out lead as well as an adult’s can. They also spend most of their time either on, or close to, the floor, which is where the heavy lead dust falls. This, along with their hand to mouth activity, puts them at high risk for lead poisoning.

So what can you as a parent do?
Make sure they wash their hands after coming in from outside and before eating. You can even use a wipe to do this if you want. Keep them away from any peeling or chipping paint. Don’t let your child put his mouth on window sills, porch rails or painted surfaces. Ask anyone who comes in from outside to leave their shoes at the door. Clean floors, window sills, and walls with a wet cloth or mop.
Parents working in automotive repair, sandblasting, recycling, or as painters can bring home lead dust on their clothes. If possible they should change their clothes at work, and bring the dirty clothes home in a bag.

Check All Your Toys, New And Old
Recently there has been a great deal of publicity about toys recalled due to lead paint. Press releases from the companies stated they have received no reports of children being injured from these items. It was actually the company’s own testing that identified the risk. The toys are a hazard only if the child actually puts the toy in his mouth or if he puts his fingers in his mouth after playing with the toy.

Be Wary Of Vending Machine Toys
In the past few years several children have been poisoned by necklaces and other jewelry that came from vending machines or dollar stores. Don’t allow any small children to have these items. If your older children or teens have these kinds of jewelry tell them not to put it in their mouth or suck on it.

Have Your Babies Tested
All children should be tested for lead poisoning at ages 12 months and 24 months. This is done by a simple finger stick blood test that is most often performed in your medical provider’s office.

If you have any questions about lead poisoning, please call the Erie County Department of Health Child Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (814) 451-6782.

This information is distributed by the Erie County Department of Health, 606 W. 2nd Street, Erie, PA 16507, 814-451-6700, http://www.ecdh.org.