Lead Poisoning

girl in black and white sitting on red trike
Lead is a metal that is found in nature and many every-day products.  When people are exposed to lead, the body does not process it and the metal builds up.   Even after a small amount of lead exposure, the metal builds-up and becomes lead poisoning.  There is no safe level of lead exposure for children. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and school success.   Children under the age of 6 are even more at risk of getting lead poisoning.

The most important thing people can do to prevent lead exposure is to learn where lead is found.  While the effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected, early identification of high lead levels can help children overcome the effects.

Lead Hazards
Lead hazards may come from the following:
  • Paint: Paint used before 1978 could contain lead. If the paint is chipping, peeling, or chalking it may be a problem.
  • Dust: Lead dust is the main source of lead poisoning. Lead dust mixes with household dust and can gather on surfaces, in carpets, and on toys.
  • Soil and dirt: Soil around homes and apartment buildings may contain lead. Children may come into contact with lead by playing in bare dirt. Lead in the soil may enter vegetables planted in the garden.
  • Water pipes and solder: Some household plumbing may contain lead solder. Lead may get into the water when water sits in pipes. If this happens, the water you use for drinking, cooking, or mixing baby formula can cause lead poisoning.
  • Pottery, workplaces, and hobbies: Some imported pottery and ceramic cookware may have lead in the glaze. Lead can also be brought into the home from the workplace (painters, remodelers, welders, etc.) and hobbies (stained glass solder, bullets, fishing sinkers, etc.) that use lead.
How to Keep Your Child Safe
  • Keep the places where children play clean and dust free. Regularly wet-wipe floors, window sills, and other surfaces that may contain lead dust.
  • Wash children’s hands, pacifiers, and toys often to remove dust.
  • Have children play on grass instead of bare dirt. Take off shoes when entering a home to avoid tracking in soil that may contain lead.
  • Provide meals high in iron, vitamin C, and calcium; which health prevent young bodies from absorbing lead.
  • Use only cold water for drinking, cooking, or making baby formula. Run the water 15 to 30 seconds until it feels colder.
  • Don’t use fold remedies or imported, old, or handmade pottery to store food or drinks.
  • If you work with lead in your job or hobby, change clothes and shower before you go home.
  • Bring your children in for regular well visits.
  • Ask your child's doctor about blood lead tests.
Local Public Health’s Role
Blood lead test results are sent to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).   When an abnormal blood lead test is found, MDH will notify the local public health department for follow-up.  A local Public Health worker will then contact the family to: 
  • Discuss the results.
  • Give information on how to prevent lead exposure in the future,
  • Discuss the possible cause of lead, and how to get the lead out of your child’s body. 
  • Schedule a home visit if the cause of the lead exposure is unknown.
PREVENT. PROMOTE. PROTECT.