Get the Lead Out: National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2014

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lead free kids

Joseph and Gwen Porter are so excited. For several years they have been looking for an older home they can afford. They’ve found a charming 1930s bungalow in a beautiful, tree-lined neighborhood with plenty of room for their three children. But when they read the seller’s disclosure required by law, they are surprised to learn that the home contains lead paint.

The Porters know that lead exposure is dangerous for children, but they also know that lead paint was banned years ago. They discover, however, that many older homes still contain lead paint that can contaminate house dust. The Porters also learn that lead exposure continues to be a public health concern.

Facts about lead exposure

  • Houses built before lead-based paints were banned in 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint.
  • About 24 million homes in the U.S. contain deteriorated lead-based paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust.
  • About 4 million homes with elevated lead levels are home to young children.
  • An estimated 535,000 U.S. children ages 1-5 years have blood lead levels known to damage health.
  • For each seriously lead-poisoned child, medical and special education costs average over $5,600.

Other sources of lead exposure


Besides peeling and cracking lead paint and dust, children can come into contact with lead in other ways. Some water pipes contain lead, as well as some toys and toy jewelry, imported candy, and traditional home remedies. In addition, adults who work in occupations involving lead, such as mining or manufacturing, may accidentally bring lead into their homes from products they use at work. Some hobbies, like making stained glass, also use lead.

Dangers to children’s health from lead exposure

Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health. Children can swallow lead or they can breathe lead in household dust, frequently during home renovation and repair. Even at low levels, lead exposure can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, slowing growth and development and lowering IQ. It can lead to problems with hearing and speech, behavior, paying attention and learning.

The great news is that lead poisoning is 100% preventable. Follow these steps to make your home lead-safe:

  • Talk to your child’s doctor about a simple blood lead test.
  • Talk to your local health department about testing paint and dust in your home for lead if you live in a home built before 1978.
  • If you see paint chips or dust in windowsills or on floors because of peeling paint, clean these areas regularly with a wet mop.
  • Renovate safely. Sanding, cutting, replacing windows and other common renovation activities can create hazardous lead dust. To ensure lead-safe renovation, use contractors certified by EPA .
  • Remove recalled toys and toy jewelry from children. Stay up-to-date on current toy and toy jewelry recalls by visiting the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s webpage.

The Porters are relieved to learn that trained EPA-certified contractors can remove lead paint and dust from their home. With lead removed and their home freshly painted, the Porters can now move into their long-awaited home, knowing that they have protected their children’s health and created a safe place to live.


CDC’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week Toolkit

EPA Lead Webpage


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One comment on “Get the Lead Out: National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2014”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    I enjoyed how the article began with a descriptive story about a family concerned with the health risks of moving into a 1930 home that contains lead paint. Beginning the blog post with an anecdote successfully grabbed my attention, and encouraged me to continue reading. The facts about lead and sources of exposure were easy to read because it was in bullet format. I recommend making the graphic “Prevent Childhood Lead Poisoning” clearer to read. I clicked on the picture to see if it would enlarge, but it remained the same size. When I zoomed in, the picture grew, but the words became blurry. The image should be larger and easier to read to effectively communicate the lead poisoning effects on children.

    The section, “The great news is that lead poisoning is 100% preventable,” was highly informative detailing the steps people can take to make their houses lead-safe. The steps listed the link to EPA contractors who are certified to remove lead paint from homes and the link to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website to find recalled toys that contain lead. Both links are useful resources for families in lead based houses. Overall, the blog post successfully delivered clear information about the facts, dangers, and remedies for lead painted homes. The blog ended in a great fashion referring back to the story about the family and adding their happy ending of being able to remove the lead paint and live in a healthy and safe environment.

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Page last reviewed: October 24, 2014
Page last updated: October 24, 2014