Lead is a huge danger for children. Ingestion is common in high-risk areas, and even the most aware parent can be taken by surprise. Consider the Thomas train toys–my kids have played with those at Barnes & Noble. It’s really hard to stay up on it.
It takes just the smallest particle of lead to permanently alter the course of your child’s life–the effects of lead poisoning are irreversible!
To see how common recalls due to lead issues really are, hop on over to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website. Pick a month. Count how many of the recalls are related to lead issues. It’s staggering.
I am working on a whole series about lead poisoning. It’s overdue; I know too much, and so many parents know so little. We all need to be more aware of this poison.
For starters, here’s a list of the places mostly likely to harbor lead or lead paint:
- Outdoor house paint – even brick houses often have painted windows
- Window and trim paint indoors (lead paint wasn’t banned until 1978, remember)
- Dirt and soil around the perimeter of old houses and near busy roadways (leaded fuel wasn’t banned until the 80s, and remains a concern in diesel fuel)
- Water (even if your house is new, the pipes from city water systems may be lead pipes)
- Toys–especially plastic, and especially the cheaper, dollar store variety
- Children’s jewelry–this is a huge offender! Not just dollar store and vending machine jewelry (though that’s where a bulk of it is sold), but also chain stores like Claire’s
- Older playground equipment, especially painted surfaces
Things you can do today to reduce your child’s risk:
- Wash your child’s hands thoroughly (we sing through the ABC song) before every single meal.
- When out and about, where you might not know where the risks are, carry disposable baby wipes to wipe little hands down frequently. This is one of the only disposable products I use.
- Wet dust and wet mop your older home frequently. See here for how.
- Read up on lead safety and be aware of hazards. You’d be surprised at what you don’t know.
- Filter your drinking water. Even a Brita will filter out large percentages of lead. The gold standard for lead removal is reverse osmosis. (If you can’t do a filter, be sure to flush your faucets every morning by running water for at least 30 seconds to remove overnight sediment.)
- Have your baby’s lead levels tested at six months or younger if you have an older home, worship at an older church, work/attend day care at an older facility, or live near recent demolitions or renovations. Repeat every six months if you continue to be around high-risk areas. They will tell you that less than 10 is a “safe” level, but even government and health officials are admitting that permanent brain damage is noted at levels well below that. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with a level higher than 3.
Above all, we can’t live in fear. We live in a broken world, full of hazardous things. Pray, guard your little ones well, and become knowledgeable. Fear won’t help your child, but your education will.