There are no safe lead levels in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since 1991 the agency has specified that levels higher than 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood are dangerous. Now the CDC has updated its guidelines in the wake of a new study that found that babies and young children with levels lower than 7.5 had below-average IQs.
Children under 6 are at highest risk from ingesting lead in paint dust, dirt, or water. Here is a checklist for parents of ways to prevent lead poisoning:
- Have your home tested for lead if it was built before 1978 or you've recently renovated.
- Make sure that your child has a lead blood test at ages 1 and 2.
- Be aware of peeling paint, and dispose of paint chips immediately.
- Keep children from chewing window sills or other painted surfaces.
- Keep play areas clean, and separate indoor and outdoor toys.
- Clean or remove shoes before entering your home.
- Wash floors, window frames, window sills, and other surfaces weekly; keep play areas clean; rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty or dusty areas.
- Run tap water until it gets cold, and never use hot water to mix baby formula.
- Wash children's hands often, especially before they eat or sleep.
- Feed children a diet rich in calcium and iron, and not overly high in fat, because kis with good diets absorb less lead.
- Advocate for better regulations to protect your children.