What Can Be Done to Prevent Lead Poisoning?

An environmental specialist can test samples of paint, dust, soil and water from the home. There are also home kits that can be purchased to detect lead in certain products. If lead is found in the home, the best way to remove it is to hire a professional lead-abatement contractor. However, this process is extremely expensive. Following the steps below will help to limit lead exposure, but the procedures need to be repeated regularly. 

  • Keep children away from paint in the home or yard that is peeling or chipped.

  • For houses built before 1980, wet mop hard surfaces (floors, window sills and baseboards) at least once a week. Remove any paint chips or dust with a wet cloth rather than a vacuum, which spreads the dust. Buckets of water and dishwashing liquid should be used for thorough cleaning. 

  • Vacuum cleaners with agitators rather than suction only will remove dust from rugs much better without spreading the dust particles. If a rug cannot be cleaned and is suspected of containing lead, the rug should be discarded. 

  • If possible, the family should move to another location while the entire house can be cleaned. Wash all linens, towels, clothes, walls, silverware, plates, walls and everything else in the home. Once this initial cleaning has been completed, family members can move back in, but the cleaning needs to continue regularly. 

  • Frequently wash children’s faces and hands, especially before eating.

  • Wash toys and pacifiers frequently.

  • Follow correct procedures during remodeling of older homes. Children and pregnant women should not be present during the process. The family should not return until the remodeling is completed and the house has been cleaned thoroughly.

  • If the lead content of the water in the home exceeds the standard for drinking water, run the faucet for two minutes to flush the pipes of lead before consuming the water. Have the water tested for lead content. This flushing process may not be effective in apartments or high-rise buildings.

  • Wash all food thoroughly before eating.

  • Do not store food in open cans, especially if the can is imported. 

  • Use only cold water for drinking, cooking and preparing baby formula. Hot water dissolves the lead more quickly than cold water, and thus contains higher levels of lead.

  • Do not store food in or eat off of pottery, pewter or ceramic ware that has been fired with lead.

  • Avoid folk remedies that contain lead.

  • Ensure that lead is not brought into the home by family members returning from work or hobbies that involve lead, such as: battery and aircraft work, lead smelting, brass foundry work, radiator-repair work, construction, lead abatement work, bridge-repair, painting, mining, ceramics, stained-glass making or jewelry making. If a family member participates in these activities, he or she should shower and put on clean clothes before entering the home.

  • More lead is absorbed into an empty stomach, so make sure the children have regular meals.

  • Provide sufficient iron and calcium in the child’s diet and not excessive amounts of fat. If your child’s pediatrician approves, anti-oxidant medication may help to cleanse the blood of lead.

  • Dig up the top several inches of soil and remove it from the property. 

  • Priming and painting the outside of the house will cover up any old lead-based paint and lock it into the boards.

  • Contact the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Lead Information Center Hotline at 1-800-532-3394 for additional assistance.

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