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What can I do to make sure that my child is safe from lead?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses a reference level of 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood in children age 1 to 5 for public health action to be initiated. The type of public health action to be initiated is dependent on the blood lead level detected in the child’s blood. Thus a level of 4.5 requires no public health action, where as a level of 70 microgram/dL requires immediate medical treatment and an environmental inspection to identify lead hazards in the child’s environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends the following actions to reduce exposure to lead at the home: (1) Regular cleaning of floors, window sills, and other surfaces where house dust accumulates. It is well documented that the most common source of lead exposure for children is lead paint in older housing and the contaminated dust and soil it generates. (2) Washing children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers, and toys often. (3) Making sure children eat a healthy, nutritious diet consistent with the USDA’s dietary guidelines. (4) Wiping off shoes before entering the house. And (5) Using an EPA-certified firm for renovations, or if you are doing the renovation yourself, use lead-safe work practices (see http://www.epa.gov/lead for more information).