How to Prevent Lead Poisoning

Increased levels of lead in the blood can cause uncomfortable symptoms, weakened brain activity and possibly death. Although anyone can be affected by lead poisoning, children under six years of age are most at risk, especially if they are from low-income families. Young children face increased risk due to rapid development and tendency to put hands and objects into their mouths. Since low-income families are more likely to live in older housing structures, impoverished children face a greater risk, and are typically tested for lead poisoning in accordance with state Medicaid plans. It is easier to prevent lead poisoning than it is to reverse its effects, so care should always be taken to avoid excessive exposure to lead.


  1. Image titled Prevent Lead Poisoning Step 1
    Determine the date your home was built. Extra precautions must be taken to avoid lead poisoning if your home was built before 1978.
    • Assume you have lead-based paint in your home if it was built before 1978, as nearly all homes built before this time have some lead, although it usually isn't harmful unless the paint is starting to deteriorate, or the home is excessively dusty.
    • Contact your local health department for testing to determine the levels of lead present in your home.
    • Immediately cover peeling paint and make sure your home is frequently mopped and dusted, since lead particles are present in household dust when lead paint has been used on the walls.
    • Pregnant women and children should not be present when a home built before 1978 is being renovated.
  2. Image titled Handle Foods Step 4
    Wash your hands frequently. Teach children about cleanliness and make sure they wash their hands after playing outside, as well as before meals.
    • Do not allow children to play directly in or with ground soil. Direct them toward a sandbox if they have the urge to dig.
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    Consume tap water that is cold, rather than warm or hot. Use purified water or cold tap water when preparing infant formula and cooking.
    • Older plumbing may contain lead, which is more likely to absorb into the water when it is warm.
    • If warm tap water must be used in a home with old plumbing, run cold water from the faucet for 2 minutes before switching to warm water.
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    Purchase products that are lead-free.
    • Check labels on cookware, utensils and food storage supplies to make sure they are lead-free. Avoid purchasing these items second-hand unless the lead-free label is still intact.
    • Avoid eating candy that is made in Mexico, as some have been reported to contain small amounts of lead.
    • Regularly check toy recall lists and dispose of any toys that are shown to be contaminated with lead.
  5. Image titled Recognize Peanut Allergies Step 3
    Request a blood test to measure lead exposure if you suspect you or a family member may have lead poisoning.


  • Make sure your child's medical provider is notified if you live in a house built before 1978. Children who live in older homes are tested more often for lead exposure.


  • Do not wear outdoor boots indoor.

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Categories: Childhood Health | Health