Childhood Lead Poisoning

What is Lead?

Lead is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts inside the earths crust.

Where can Lead be Found?

Lead can be found in soil, water, and in the air. Lead is commonly used in car batteries, ammunition, weight belts for for diving, piping, gasoline, and fishing weights. Lead can also be used for radiation protection and the storage of corrosive liquids.

Lead can also be found in homes built before 1978. Lead based paints were commonly used to paint the inside and outside of homes before they were outlawed in 1978. A common signs of lead based paint is the chipping and cracking of paint on a wall or ceiling.

Children and How They can be Exposed to Lead

Children absorb more lead than adults due to their growing bodies. Common sources of lead exposure for children are:
  • drinking water from lead piping
  • chewing or consuming lead based paints chippings
  • inhaling lead dust from lead based paints
  • playing with toys that were painted with lead based paint

Other Possible Sources of Lead Exposure

  • Childcare centers may be a source of lead exposure for children through toys, water, and paint.
  • Parents who work and/or hobbies involve lead based products such as stain glass work, home renovations, shooting firearms, and fishing.
  • Children living near airports can be exposed to airborne lead particles from the burning of aviation gas.

How Lead Effects the Health of Children

High levels of lead in the blood of children can cause sever health issues and developmental issues such as:
  • Brain damage
  • Damage to the Nervous system
  • Lowering of IQ
  • Hearing and speech problems

How to Lower the Chances of Lead Exposure

  • Maintain all painted surfaces to prevent paint deterioration
  • Clean around painted areas which generate dust such as doors, windows, and drawers.
  • Remove and discard paint chips.
  • Keep your home clean and dust free
  • Teach children how to wash their hands.
  • Wash and clean bottles, pacifiers and toys.
  • Use only cold water to wash and prepare food and drinks.

Lead Investigations

For information about childhood lead poisoning investigations in the state of North Carolina, click here