Exposure to lead, a toxic metal, can make you, your children, and even your pets, sick. Breathing, touching, or eating paint or dust containing lead is the most common way of being exposed. You can also be exposed to lead from water pipes or faucets, especially when hot water is used.
“Even low levels of lead exposure in children can have a significant impact,” said Lisa Fink, MD, chief medical officer, pediatrician, and internist at InterCare Community Health Network in Benton Harbor. “This is because a child’s brain is still developing, and lead is toxic to the brain. However, lower levels of lead can be hard to detect with symptoms alone which is why parents need to be aware of their environment and city water supplies.”
For additional questions about lead exposure, visit michigan.gov/mileadsafe or call the Berrien County Health Department public hotline at 1.800.815.5485
How can you protect yourself and your children from lead poisoning, no matter where you live? Take action with these steps:
- Have your home tested for water by contacting your water supplier or visiting Michigan.gov/drinkingwater to find a certified lab. If water is found to be high in lead content, follow instructions provided by your local or state health department which may include installing a water filter or using bottled water.
- Let tap water run for a few moments before using it and only use cold water for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula. Do not boil water to remove lead.
- Feed children foods rich in iron and calcium which can limit the amount of lead they soak up. Good choices include eggs, lean red meat, beans, and dairy products.
- Wash children’s hands before they eat. Also wash them before they take a nap and go to sleep at night.
- Keep house surfaces clean. Wash floors, window wells, frames, sills, and play areas weekly.
- Don’t let kids play in bare soil (consider a sandbox instead). Wipe children’s hands and remove their shoes after playing outdoors.
- Don’t let your children lick or chew painted surfaces and regularly check for areas with chipped paint.
- Wash toys often. Be aware of toy recalls due to lead paint. Sign up for recall alerts at cpsc.gov