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Children and Lead Poisoning

child and peeling paint on wallLead poisoning can harm children's health, and can cause , learning, and behavior problems. Young children are most at risk. Peeling lead paint, and the dust it turns into, is the most common cause of lead poisoning.

New York City banned the use of lead paint in homes in 1960 but many older buildings may still have lead paint on their walls, windows, doors, and other surfaces. Lead dust from peeling paint can land on window sills, floors, and toys. When young children play on the floor and put their hands and toys in their mouths, they can swallow lead dust and become lead poisoned. Some imported products like toys, herbal medicines, clay pots and dishes, cosmetics, foods and spices have been found to contain lead. These products also can be a source of exposure to lead for children and adults. See the Lead in Imported Products Fact sheet (PDF)
Other languages: [Español][中文][Français][عربي][हिन्दी ][اُردو][বাংলা] [ਪੰਜਾਬੀ].

Pregnant Women and Lead Poisoning

Pregnant women are at risk of lead poisoning by eating foods or non-food items that contain lead, or by using products or remedies containing lead. Sometimes women who had lead poisoning when they were younger still have lead in their bodies, When you are pregnant, the lead in your body can be carried to your unborn baby. Lead exposure during pregnancy can cause:

  • High blood pressure in a pregnant woman
  • Miscarriage
  • Babies born too soon or too small
  • Learning and behavior problems in a child


Test Children and Pregnant Women for Lead Poisoning. It’s the law!

A blood lead test is the only way to find out if you have lead poisoning. In New York State, children must be tested for lead poisoning at age 1 and age 2. Pregnant women should be assessed for exposure to lead at their first doctor’s visit. Ask your doctor about testing older children if you think they may have been exposed to lead. Call 311 for help finding a doctor or clinic.


Protect Yourself and Your Children
  • Report peeling or damaged paint to your building owner. Building owners must safely fix peeling paint—it's the law! If this does not happen, call 311or go online to file a Lead Paint Complaint.
  • 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 Children's Products

Lead has been found in the paint, metal and plastic parts of jewelry, toys, vinyl lunch boxes, and other imported products for children. Younger children who put their hands and toys in their mouths are at greatest risk. Some products are also choking hazards.

Recently some, but not all, of these products have been recalled from stores.

See the Toy Safety Tips Fact Sheet (PDF)
Other languages: [Español] [中文] for information about lead in toys and other toy safety hazards.



See more lead poisoning prevention publications.