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Lead Protection

The best way to protect yourself and your family from lead poisoning is to learn how to identify sources of lead, detect lead poisoning symptoms and reduce or prevent exposure. Common sense, not expensive or inconvenient tests and gadgets, is the most effective approach to reducing and eliminating lead in your environment.

The following guidelines and suggestions are easily accomplished in any home or work place. Education, recognition and prevention are key to keeping this preventable illness at bay.

Keep house soil and dust low

  • minimize dust and soil brought into the house
  • take off your shoes before entering your house
  • if you work with lead or in a lead-contaminated environment, change out of your work clothes before entering the house
  • do a thorough house cleanup - use a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuum cleaner then use a high phosphate detergent with a wet mop, sponge or rag to wipe floors, baseboards and window sills
  • thoroughly rinse mops, sponges and rags after cleaning
  • keep play areas and toys clean
  • have your home and yard tested for lead levels

Keep yard soil covered and in place

  • cover exposed soil with sod or wood chips, plant grass and other plants or build a deck
  • do not let children play in lead-contaminated soil (the highest lead levels are found next to houses where lead-paint debris accumulates and wind-blown contaminated dust settles)
  • add a sandbox to provide a clean play area

Don't disturb lead-based paint

  • maintain intact painted areas to prevent peeling and cracking
  • test for lead-based paint in any house built before 1978 before buying or remodeling
  • do not sand, burn, scrape or remove lead-based paint in or on homes, boats or cars
  • if lead paint is crumbling, peeling or you're remodeling, have a professional inspect and remove the paint following proper safety procedures
  • keep furniture and children (especially cribs and playpens) away from damaged paint
  • have your landlord fix peeling or chipping paint surfaces

Test your drinking water for lead

  • most well or city water supplies do not contain lead but water picks up lead inside your home if plumbing is made with lead materials
  • water contains more lead if it has sat in pipes for a long time, is hot or is acidic.
  • if you have high lead amounts in your water, do not drink, cook or make baby formula with hot tap water; if cold water has not been used for two hours, run the cold water for 30 to 60 seconds before drinking or cooking with it; and buy a filter certified for lead removal

Eat right and avoid consumer products with lead

  • eat a balanced diet rich in calcium and iron
  • do not serve, prepare or store food in older or handmade dishes that contain lead
  • teach children to wash their hands often, not to lick their fingers or bite their nails
  • avoid home remedies or cosmetics that contain lead (Azarcon, Greta, Pay-loo-ah, Alkohl or Kohl and hair coloring products)
  • buy food packaged in cans that are not made with lead solder

Know and be able to detect lead poisoning symptoms

  • common severe lead poisoning symptoms include: fatigue, memory loss, balance problems, weakness in the fingers, chronic bowel troubles and visual difficulties; less visible symptoms may include: tantrums, short attention span, learning disabilities or irritability.
  • a simple blood test can detect high lead levels
  • if you suspect lead poisoning, take action immediately, call the National Lead Information Center at 1 (800) LEADFYI for general information and for testing and treatment programs (which may include diet changes, medication or hospitalization) in your area



  1. Meilke, H.W. 1997. Leaded dust in urban soil shown to be greater source of childhood lead poisoning than leaded paint. Lead Perspectives, (March/April):28-31.
  2. Protect your family from lead in your home. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA 47-K-94-001. Washington, D.C. 1995. 14 pps.
  3. Simple things you can do to prevent childhood lead poisoning, The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch, California Department of Health Services.
  4. Lead poisoning and your children. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA 800-B-92-002. February 1995.