Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention: What Can Parents Do?

Childhood lead poisoning can be prevented. The only way to prevent lead poisoning is to keep children from coming into contact with lead. Be sure you know the sources of lead and the steps you can take to immediately reduce the risk to your child.

Guidelines to Reduce the Risk of Lead Poisoning

  • Have your doctor test your child for lead. If you are pregnant or have a child under the age of 6, talk to your doctor about lead testing. The North Shore Health Department recommends that you follow Wisconsin's blood lead screening recommendations. If your child is under the age of 6 and has never been tested (or has no record of a previous test), has a history of lead exposure, or is at greater risk of lead exposure, be sure to talk to your health care provider or clinic about testing. Find lead testing recommendations here. The best place to get tested is at your doctor's office or local clinic.  Most insurance plans pay for lead testing, and testing for Medicaid-eligible children is required annually and paid for by Medicaid.
  • Find the sources of lead in your home. Inside your home, know the possible sources of lead and the steps you can take to prevent exposure. Prevent lead from entering your home by taking off or wiping your shoes before you enter. If you work with lead materials at your job, shower, wash and change your clothes and shoes before entering your home. Wash your work clothes separately from other clothes and run an empty cycle afterward to flush the washing machine.

  • Safely clean up lead paint and dust. When old lead paint cracks or peels, it makes small paint chips or lead dust. Lead dust can be so small that you don't even see it. Window are typically where the highest concentrations of lead dust are found. Find information on safe window cleaning methods here. 

  • Wash your child's hands and toys. Children can be exposed to high levels of lead from swallowing the dust on their hands and toys. Wash your child's hands frequently, especially before eating and after playing outside. Be sure to wash children's toys frequently, especially if they were outside or are covered in dust or dirt.

  • Feed your children healthy meals and snacks. Children who are deficient in certain nutrients may absorb more lead. While the only way to prevent lead poisoning is to prevent exposure to lead, eating foods that are high in calcium, iron, and Vitamin C may help reduce the amount of lead absorbed by the body. Find information on the best things to eat here

  • Avoid using traditional home remedies, cosmetics, and medicines. Traditional or "folk" products, especially when imported from other countries, are often not regulated and may contain high amounts of lead.

    Be cautious when using imported, handmade, or antique toys, jewelry, food, or ceramics. 
    These substances are often linked to increased exposure to lead. If you are not sure a food or object is safe, do not use or give to your child.

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