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Tips For Avoiding Lead Exposure


It is normal for young children to put things into their mouths. Unfortunately, as described above, this is the way most children consume lead. Since it is not possible to prevent children from placing things into their mouths at this age, it is important to keep your house clean of dust. 

Keep dirt and dust to a minimum by weekly damp mopping floors, windowsills and wells with an all-purpose cleaner. Other things you should do include:

  • Wash your child's hands before eating, after playing outside, and at bedtime. Keep fingernails short so dirt will not collect under them
  • Wash your children’s toys weekly and when dirty
  • Remove your shoes when entering the house to prevent tracking in of dirt
  • Keep your child away from areas that contain old, chipped paint, inside or outside
  • Block access to windows or other problem areas by placing a large piece of furniture in front of them

Behavior Modification

Sometimes children over the age of 3 years continue to put things in their mouths, so you will need to continue these cleaning measures. In addition, you can also use behavior modification to help reduce you child's mouthing behavior.  Start by giving your child a simple explanation of why you want the child to stop putting his thumb, hands, or dirt into his mouth.

Explain that these things may have lead on them and that it can make him sick.  Remember to reward good behavior. Notice when your child is playing without putting objects in his mouth and say, ‘You're doing great, playing so nicely and not putting your fingers in your mouth!’  Try to catch your child being good at least once or twice an hour and reward him with a hug and words of praise. 

Remember: behavior cannot be changed overnight, so you will have to be patient with your child and yourself. It takes some effort, but it is worth the energy to reduce your child's exposure to lead.

Safe Home Renovations

If you are planning any renovations to a house built before 1978 or if you are removing lead paint in the house, be sure that children and pregnant women are not in the home until the work and cleanup is completed.  The process of removing lead paint can be dangerous and must be done using proper tools and precautions. Discuss any renovations with the Health Department before starting work.

Avoiding Lead in Water & Soil

To reduce lead exposure from water, run the cold-water tap for about three minutes in the morning to flush your pipes. Then fill a plastic jug with water to use during the day for drinking and cooking.

To reduce lead exposure from soil, plant grass or lay mulch on open dirt.  Also, use a sandbox with clean sand so that children have somewhere to play other than dirt.