Lead can harm children's health, learning, and behavior, with young children being at the highest risk. It became illegal to use leaded paint after 1960, but many older buildings still have layers of lead paint on their walls. You can get lead poisoning by breathing in lead dust or by eating herbal remedies or other products that have lead in them. Young children may put bits of peeling paint in their mouths.
Lead can harm adults as well as children--pregnant women are at particular risk. Lead exposure can cause:
- Learning and behavior problems in a child.
- High blood pressure in a pregnant woman
- Babies born too soon or too small
Test Yourself or Your Children for Lead
If you think you may have been exposed to lead, ask your doctor about a blood lead test. A blood lead test is the only way to find out if you have lead poisoning and get treatment. Call 311 for help finding a doctor or clinic.
Protect Yourself and Your Children
- Use cold tap water for making baby formula or baby cereal, and for drinking or cooking. Lead can get into water through old plumbing.
- Report peeling or damaged paint to your landlord. Your landlord must safely fix peeling paint—it's the law! If this does not happen, call 311 for help.
- Keep children away from peeling paint and home repairs.
- Wash floors and windowsills often. Wash children's hands and toys too.
- Remove shoes before entering your home.
- Wash work clothes separately from the family laundry if someone in your household works with lead.
Lead in Imported Toys and Other Products for Children
Lead has been found in the paint, metal and plastic parts of jewelry, toys, vinyl lunch boxes, and other imported products for children. For updates on recalled products and more information about recalls or specific products visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
See the Health Department's Toy Safety Fact Sheet (PDF)
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Last Updated: April 24, 2012