Lead poisoning is dangerous for young children.

Lead poisoning is a medical condition that occurs when lead builds up in the body. Elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs) in young children are associated with adverse health effects, including learning impairment, behavioral problems, and even death at very high levels. Children less than 6 years of age living in homes built before 1978 are most at risk for lead poisoning. Younger children are more at risk because their bodies absorb lead more easily and their brains are still developing.

Many houses built before 1978 have lead-based paint.

Lead-based paint is a common cause of lead poisoning. People can get lead poisoning by breathing paint dust or accidentally eating paint chips or other materials contaminated with lead. Young children frequently put their hands or other objects, which may be contaminated with lead, into their mouths.

Take steps to prevent lead poisoning.

Paint that is chipping, flaking, or peeling poses a greater risk for exposure to lead. Renters and homeowners who perform their own repairs and remodeling may disturb lead-based paint, which can expose children to lead. Anyone who repairs or remodels homes built before 1978 should follow lead-safe work practices. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following actions may also help reduce or prevent childhood lead exposure:

  • Keep kids and pregnant women away from chipping or peeling paint.
  • Damp-mop floors, damp-wipe surfaces, and frequently wash a child's hands, pacifiers, and toys.
  • Use cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking, and for making baby formula. Hot water is more likely to contain higher levels of lead, and most of the lead in household water usually comes from the plumbing in a house, not from the local water supply.
  • Check children's toys for lead, especially imported toys.
  • If work or hobbies (e.g., painting, remodeling, auto repair, plumbing, battery manufacturing) might involve working with lead-based products, take basic steps to prevent lead exposure in children (e.g., shower and change clothes after finishing work).

For more information about preventing childhood lead poisoning, see the MDH Lead Program's Fact Sheets and Brochures.

What is being done about childhood lead poisoning?

The MDH Lead Program is a leader for childhood lead poisoning prevention efforts statewide and implements the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) cooperative agreement from the CDC, which contributes toward the elimination of childhood lead poisoning as a public health problem. The Lead Program provides lead poisoning prevention education, support to individuals exposed to lead, and assistance to contractors and property owners in addressing lead issues.

To see tables and charts on Childhood Lead Poisoning measures, see:

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