Munson Health
Lead Poisoning-Child

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by Smoots E


Children with lead poisoning often show no symptoms. However, the toxic metal can negatively affect nearly every system in the body.
One of the most serious concerns is lead's harmful effect on the neurological system. For every 10 mcg/dL increase in blood lead levels, there is a 2-3 point decline in IQ test scores. Lead poisoning is also associated with neurodevelopment problems, such as:
Other possible signs of lead poisoning include:
  • Headache
  • Pain or numbness in the extremities
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite, abdominal pain
  • Impaired hearing
  • Memory loss
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Mood disorders
  • Dental and bone abnormalities


Take the following steps to decrease the risk of lead poisoning for your children:

Avoid Lead

  • Have your home's paint and water tested if:
    • You live in a home built before 1960
    • You think your child is being exposed to lead
  • Safely remove any lead you find. Your state's Department of Public Health will help with this process.
  • Keep young children away from peeled or chipped paint.
  • Wash children's toys regularly.
  • Make sure children wash their hands before eating.

Keep It Clean

Try not to vacuum hard surfaces. Instead, use wet wipes or lead-absorbing detergents to avoid spreading lead-filled dust. Vacuuming with cleaners that use HEPA air filtration may be safe and effective for floors and other hard surfaces. Eliminating lead hazards usually requires window replacement and careful surface repainting. Lead-containing dust tends to build up in carpets. Until further evidence about effective carpet cleaning becomes available, replacement of carpets is the only known way to reduce risks from floor coverings. When outside dirt is contaminated, it may need to be dug up and replaced with clean soil.

Play in Safe Areas

Take the following precautions:
  • Encourage children to play in grassy areas instead of dirt.
  • Keep children away from foundations of older homes where peeling paint may have contaminated the surrounding soil.
  • If there is a chance of lead exposure outside the home, have everyone take off their shoes before coming inside.
  • Certain adult hobbies can expose children to lead poisoning. These include:
    • Making stained glass—where lead is involved
    • Soldering electrical devices with lead-containing solder
    • Fishing with lead-containing sinkers
Parents who work with lead or whose hobbies involve lead should take special precautions to protect themselves and their children from lead contact.


National Safety Council's Environmental Health Center

United States Environmental Protection Agency



About Kids Health

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety



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Lead. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated April 4, 2013. Accessed May 30, 2013.

Lead. US Environmental Protection Agency website. Available at: Updated February 26, 2013. Accessed May 30, 2013.

Lead poisoning. National Safety Council website. Available at: Accessed May 30, 2013.

Lozoff B, Jimenez E, et al. Higher infant blood lead levels with longer duration of breastfeeding. J Pediatr. 2009 Nov;155(5):663-667.

Ronchetti R, Van Den Hazel P, et al. Lead neurotoxicity in children: is prenatal exposure more important than postnatal exposure? Acta Paediatr. 2006;95:45-49.

7/2/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Williams PL, Sergeyev O, Lee MM, et al. Blood lead levels and delayed onset of puberty in a longitudinal study of Russian boys. Pediatrics. 2010;125(5):e1088-1096.


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