Before 1978, particularly in the 1950s, lead was a common ingredient found in house paint. Homes painted with lead-based paint pose a constant threat even today, as painted surfaces break down over time, releasing lead dust that can be breathed in by children. Windows, doors, steps and porches are key zones where lead dust can be released.
Lead-based paint can similarly contaminate the soil around homes, a consequence of chipping paint and renovation activity. People can track this soil into homes where children play on the floor. Children are often most at risk for lead poisoning from either lead contaminated soil or dust.
What are symptoms of lead poisoning in children?
Signs of lead poisoning are not always easy to see. Children may be exposed to lead but not look or act sick. Many children who have lead poisoning look and act healthy. Sometimes unclear symptoms may be misdiagnosed as stomach distress or the flu. Because of this, lead poisoning often goes unrecognized. A blood test is the best way to find out if a child has lead poisoning.
Symptoms of lead poisoning in children:
- Weariness or loss of energy
- Irritability or crankiness
- Abridged attention span
- Poor hunger
- Weight loss
- Distress in sleeping
- Aches or pains in stomach
How can lead poisoning affect my child?
Lead is a poison that affects each organ and system in the body. Extensive contact with lead can cause coma, seizures and death. Even a small exposure to lead can impair children’s’ learning.
Exposure to lead can cause:
- Brain damage and lowered intelligence
- Behavior and learning problems
- Impaired speech and language
- Slowed growth
- Kidney and liver damage
- Hearing damage
How to protect children from lead poisoning:
- Find out when your home was constructed
- Frequently examine your home for signs of chipping, peeling or deteriorating paint
- Use lead-safe experts, like Brickley Environmental, for home care and renovations
- Keep areas where children play clean and dust free
- Clean or remove shoes before entering the home to avoid tracking in lead from soil
- Examine painted playground equipment for peeling or chipping paint