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Protecting Our Children from Lead Poisoning

2013 October 25

By Lina Younes

The other day, my husband and I met with a potential contractor to discuss some home repair projects. During our conversation, he asked if our home was built before 1978. While I gladly stated it wasn’t, I knew exactly why he asked: EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule requires contractors to follow safe lead practices when working on homes and child care facilities built before 1978. While the United States banned the sale of lead-based paint in 1978, paint and dust with lead can still be a problem in places built before then.

Lead is a highly toxic metal that can seriously hurt people, especially kids. Elevated blood lead levels in children affect almost every organ in their bodies. In extreme cases, it can even be lethal. So, what can you do to protect your children and family?

  • Clean your home regularly, watching especially for deteriorating lead-based paint and paint chips or dust.
  • Wash your children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers and toys often.
  • Have your children wipe and remove their shoes and wash hands after playing outdoors.
  • Feed your kids a healthy diet so their bodies will absorb less lead.
  • If you think your child could be at risk, consult your doctor about whether you should test how much lead is in your child’s blood.

The number of lead poisoning cases has steadily gone down since EPA banned lead in gasoline and residential paint. We’re trying to reduce them even further, though. This year, we’re working with our federal, state, and international partners through the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint.

We need to make special efforts to protect our children’s health: they’re more vulnerable than adults because of their size and behavior. For example, they eat and drink more in proportion to their weight. That intensifies the effects of exposure to lead and other contaminants. Furthermore, their habit of putting their hands and small objects in their mouths puts them at greater risk of swallowing lead from paint or dust particles. Since lead poisoning is totally preventable, wouldn’t you like to do your part to protect your child?


About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. Arman.- permalink
    October 25, 2013

    Children : Do……, Then Think!

    The Parents aren’t, but think before. The Grandpa aren’t care, because They are knowing their son and grandson. These are natural, and take a look the histories. Which one we are choose…..?

  2. Master Melvin M. Lusterio permalink
    October 26, 2013

    The Good Force be with you!

    Thanks, Lina, for a good article!
    Your concern about children’s health is highly commendable. Keep it up!

    Live forever & prosper!

  3. Lina-EPA permalink*
    October 28, 2013

    Thanks for your comments,

  4. Zoe Lewis permalink
    October 29, 2013

    Children’s health in relation to environmental issues is something I don’t think is talked about nearly enough. Although most people do understand the threat of lead poisoning and the serious dangers that it causes, people don’t always realize how much more serious of a problem it can be for children– I’m glad that point was mentioned in this article. A healthy environment is imperative for a growing child, and things need to be done more than just in the home. Parents and community members have a responsibility to make sure that children are in safe environments at school as well. Schools have the capability to alter student’s health in a huge way, and I think it’s worth bringing attention to the public all that can be done to protect children’s health. The following are simple steps that can be taken to reduce environmental threats in schools.

    Pesticides on school property should be monitored and usage should be minimized whenever possible. It’s also important to make sure that paint isn’t being applied during school hours. Those fumes can be so detrimental to a child’s health. Notice leaks in your child’s school? That can lead to mold, which can lead to a huge array of problems. Make sure you’re looking out for that the next time you go to school for a visit. Another easy fix is to make sure that school buses aren’t idling near the school building. Close the doors when buses are running nearby.

    I’m glad this blog post mentioned the importance of home safety in relation to children’s health and their environment, but I think it’s great to be aware of what can be done outside the home as well.

  5. Lina-EPA permalink*
    October 31, 2013

    Definitely! It’s important to have a healthy environment where children live, learn and play. Whether it’s at home, at school, at child care centers, in the community.
    Thanks for your comments.

  6. Marg permalink
    November 7, 2013

    I wholeheartedly agree.

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