Many houses built before 1978 have lead-based paint
Lead-based paint is a common source of lead exposure. People can be exposed to lead 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.
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.
Lead exposure is dangerous for young children
Preventing early-life exposure to lead is important for life-long health. Elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs) in young children are linked with adverse health effects, including learning problems, behavioral problems, and even death if exposures are very high. Children less than 6 years of age living in homes built before 1978 are most at risk for lead exposure. Younger children are at greater risk because their bodies absorb lead more easily and their brains are still developing.
Take steps to prevent lead exposure
- Test your water if you think there is lead in your plumbing and someone in your home is under 6 years or pregnant.
- Use only cold water for cooking and drinking.
- Let water run for 30 – 60 seconds before using it for drinking or cooking.
- Be aware of other sources of lead in your home, like paint and soil.
- Talk with your family, friends, and childcare providers about getting the lead out.
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.
- Check children’s toys for lead, especially imported toys. Learn more from the CDC about lead in candy or toys and other potential Sources of Lead.
- If work or hobbies (e.g., painting, remodeling, auto repair, plumbing, battery manufacturing) involves working with lead-based products. Be sure to shower and change clothes after finishing, and take steps to prevent lead exposure in children.
For more information about preventing childhood lead exposure, please visit the MDH (Minnesota Department of Health) Website.
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