Get the Lead Out
Lead, which is especially toxic for children, was banned from household paint in the 1970s and as an additive to gasoline in the 1980s. Since these laws went into effect, lead poisoning is not as big of a problem as it used to be. However, now that it has gone out of the spotlight, many people have forgotten about lead poisoning, even though about 2 percent of children still have high lead levels, putting them at risk of behavior problems, learning disabilities, and more serious neurological problems. Lead poisoning may not be as common as it once was, but children can still suffer from it if the proper precautions are not taken.
The biggest exposures to lead these days is from lead paint in older homes, especially those built before 1950 and homes built before 1978 that are being remodeled. Soil also may be contaminated with lead. If your house was built during the time when lead-based paint was still used, keep a close eye out for peeling, chipping paint that your baby might try to eat. Also watch for lead dust that can be created when a door or window is repeatedly opened and closed.
Drinking Water and Lead
Lead may also be used in pipes, which means that drinking water is likely to be the biggest source of exposure to lead for your baby. Although only homes built before 1930 are likely to have lead pipes, the pipes in newer homes may have been connected with lead solder. And keep in mind that even “lead-free” pipes can be made with up to 8 percent lead.
If your plumbing might have lead in it, be sure to only use cold water from the tap to make formula or for cooking and drinking, because hot water can have higher lead levels than cold water. You should also let the water run for fifteen to thirty seconds before using it, to help flush your pipes so that the water has less lead in it. A water filter might also help to reduce the amount of lead in your drinking water.
Other Sources of Lead
Lead is still used today in many products, including batteries and solder, which means that if you work in certain industries you may present a potential risk to your children because lead dust can get on your clothes. Among the jobs and hobbies that can be a risk to your family are:
Making stained glass
If you spend time doing any of these activities, you should wash and change your clothes and shoes before leaving your place of work or entering your home. Washing your work clothes separately from the rest of the family's clothes is also a good idea to keep them from getting contaminated.
Certain home remedies and medicines, such as pay-loo-ah, azarcon, and ghasard, can also be sources of lead to children and should be avoided. Recalled toys and inexpensive children's jewelry have been found to be other sources of lead for children.
A recent report has shown that many people do not know how old their home is and so may underestimate their children's risk of lead poisoning. If you live in an older home or apartment, but aren't sure how old it really is, ask your pediatrician to test your infant for lead poisoning.