Keep Your Children Safe from Lead Poisoning | OSF HealthCare
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August 2022

 

Keep Your Children Safe from Lead Poisoning

Lead occurs in our soil, water, and air. You can’t see, smell, or even taste it. But exposure to lead is linked to a number of health problems in kids—from slowed growth and hearing problems to learning disabilities. How do you keep them safe?

Test your children

Lead poisoning can happen without you even knowing. That’s why experts recommend routine risk assessments throughout childhood. Guidelines vary by state, but in general, pediatricians evaluate the risk of lead poisoning annually during the first few years of childhood.

If your child is at risk, the pediatrician will perform a blood test to check for lead. Depending on the state, they may also perform routine blood tests at different ages, regardless of risk. Ask the pediatrician if your child needs testing.

Prevent exposure

Kids can be exposed to lead at home in many ways—from lead-based paint to old pipes and faucets. Your drinking water is a major risk for lead exposure.

To find out if your home is at increased risk, ask your water provider if you have a lead service line. Some utilities have programs to pay for lead service line replacement. However, keep in mind that lead can be found in other plumbing materials. The only way to know for certain that your tap water is safe to drink is to have it tested. Contact your local water authority to request a test.

Keep your water safe

If you suspect your water is contaminated, follow these steps to reduce your exposure to lead:

  • Only use cold water for drinking and cooking. Hot or warm water can contain higher levels of lead. Keep in mind that boiling water does not get rid of lead.

  • Let cold water run out of the tap for a few minutes, take a shower, or run a load of laundry before drinking tap water in your home. Water that has been sitting in the pipes may contain more lead.

  • Consider using a water filter to remove lead from your water. Filter options include water pitchers, faucet mounts, under-the-cabinet mounts, and more. Just make sure to choose a filter that is certified by NSF International for lead removal. 

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2022
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