Children can be exposed to lead from several sources, including:
Dust – Dust in houses may contain lead from chipping or peeling paint. Houses built before 1970 are more likely to contain leaded paint, and dust in such houses is more likely to contain high concentrations of lead. Paint chips from such houses may also contain high quantities of lead. Because of this, when children crawl and play on the floor and then put their fingers or toys in their mouths, they may absorb lead.
In addition, dirt outside of houses may contain elevated concentrations of lead. Leaded paint may have been used on the outside of houses, and dust from this paint may contaminate the soil around the house. In addition, lead was added to gasoline until recently, and this lead may contaminate the soil near roadways. Finally, the soil near smelters and battery recycling plants may be contaminated with lead. Children playing in such dirt may put their fingers in their mouths and thus absorb lead.
Water – Until recently, the pipes that carried water into houses, as well as numerous plumbing fixtures were made or soldered with lead.
Other – Children can be exposed to lead through certain handmade pieces of pottery, by swallowing fishing sinkers, curtain weights, or bullets/shot, and through certain home remedies such as Creta, Alkohl, or Azarcon.
Children between the ages of six months to six years are at greatest risk for lead poisoning.
How can I find out if my child has absorbed too much lead?
Most children with increased levels of lead in their blood do not act or look sick. The only way to know if your child is absorbing too much lead is to have a lead blood test. Children should have a lead level below 5 mcg/dL.
Where can I get my child's blood level checked?
Contact the health care professional who routinely cares for your child.
What can I do to decrease the amount of lead my child absorbs?
If your child has a lead level that is more than 5 mcg/dL, discuss with your physician methods for monitoring your child's lead level and the need for further intervention.