Parents Report: Lead Astray

Poison Control

If your family could be exposed to lead, take these precautions.

  • Have your child tested. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends testing at 12 months and 24 months, but if you live in a home built before 1978 (or your child spends a lot of time at another old home) it may be best for him to be tested yearly through age 6. A finger-stick blood test gives results in three minutes.
  • Use certified lead inspectors or risk assessors to check for lead in and around your home. To locate professionals in your area, go to A recent study found that lead-check swabs that are sold in home-improvement stores are not reliable.
  • Don't remove lead-based paint hazards (or do renovations) yourself unless you've completed a lead-safety training course. To find a contractor certified in lead abatement contact
  • Take off your shoes before entering the home to prevent tracking soil inside.
  • Run tap water for 30 seconds until it gets cold, and never use hot water to mix baby formula (hot water leaches more lead from pipes). For information about getting your water tested, call the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.
  • Cover exposed soil with plants or gravel.
  • Wash your hands and your children's hands, toys, and pacifiers often to remove dust. If you work with lead, shower and change your clothes before touching your children. Wash your clothing separately.

Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the September 2007 issue of Parents magazine.

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