Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. The key is stopping children from coming into contact with lead and treating children who have been poisoned by lead. The goal is to prevent lead exposure to children before they are harmed. There are many ways parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead. The key is stopping children from coming into contact with lead. Lead hazards in a child’s environment must be identified and controlled or removed safely.
Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure for lead in U.S. children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. All houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. However, it is the deterioration of this paint that causes a problem. Approximately 24 million housing units have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust. More than 4 million of these dwellings are homes to one or more young children.
All children under the age of 6 years old are at risk because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands or other objects, which may be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths. However, children living at or below the poverty line who live in older housing are at greatest risk. Additionally, children of some racial and ethnic groups and those living in older housing are disproportionately affected by lead.
It is important to determine the construction year of the house or the dwelling where your child may spend a large amount of time (e.g., grandparents or daycare). In housing built before 1978, assume that the paint has lead unless tests show otherwise.