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Lead Safe Homes

Lead Exposure Information for Parents and Caregivers

As parents and caregivers, child safety is always important. Informing yourself of the dangers of lead and where it is found will help keep children safe and healthy.

What is Lead?

Lead is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts in the earth's crust. While it has some beneficial uses, it can be toxic to humans and animals causing lasting health issues.

Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:

  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Lower IQ and Hyperactivity
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing Problems
  • Anemia

How do I know if my child has lead poisoning?

  • There are often no signs or symptoms.
  • Children can have lead poisoning and not look or act sick.
  • A simple blood test is the only way to tell if your child is being affected by lead. It is important to ask your doctor to test your child because blood lead testing is not routine.

When should my child be tested for lead?

  • Lead poisoning levels peak in children between the ages of 12 and 36 months of age.
  • Medicaid eligible children are required to be tested at 12 and 24 months of age and between 36 and 72 months if not.
  • Other children should be tested at that same frequency if they have certain risk factors.
  • Lead testing is not part of a routine pediatric check-up.
  • Parents should ask their provider to test their child's blood for lead.

What are the sources of lead exposure? How can I prevent/reduce exposure?

Lead-based Paint

  • The federal government banned lead-based paint from use in housing in 1978, but many homes and apartments built before 1978 still contain lead-based paint.
  • Lead-based paint can be found inside and outside of single family homes, apartments, and both public and private housing built before 1978. It can also be found in homes that are in the city, country, or suburbs.
  • Dust from lead-based paint is the most common source of lead poisoning for children in the United States.
  • Home renovation and repair activities that disturb lead-based paint can put children at risk for exposure to hazardous lead dust if not done properly.

Ways to Prevent Lead-Based Paint Exposure:

  • Determine the construction year of the house or the dwelling where your child spends a large amount of time (e.g., grandparents or daycare).
  • Consider testing your home for lead-based pain and dust by an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified lead risk assessor or inspector.
  • Make sure your child does not have access to chipping, peeling, or chalking paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
  • Create barriers between living/play areas and lead sources.
  • Children and pregnant women should not be present during renovations in housing built before 1978.

Soil Outside

  • Children playing in the yard of a home can ingest or inhale lead dust from contaminated soil. Soil can contain lead from exterior paint. Soil may be contaminated with lead from the past use of leaded gas in cars.

Ways to Prevent Lead Exposure from Soil:

  • Regularly wash children's hands and toys.
  • Prevent children from playing in bare soil.

Drinking Water

  • Plumbing may have lead or lead solder which can contaminate your water.
  • You cannot see, smell, or taste lead.
  • Boiling your water will not get rid of lead.
  • Call your local health department or water supplier to find out about testing your water for lead.

Ways to reduce lead exposure from drinking water:

  • Use only cold water. Hot water is more likely to contain higher levels of lead.

Jobs and Hobbies

  • Some hobbies that use lead include making pottery, stained glass, jewelry making, refinishing furniture, and home repair. There are other hobbies that use lead.
  • Some jobs that involve lead include battery recycling or manufacturing, smelting or welding, heating/air conditioning or ventilation maintenance, auto/radiator repair, and bridge painting. There are other jobs that use lead.

Ways to reduce lead exposure from jobs and hobbies:
Avoid taking lead dust home from work or hobby sites.

  • Household members who come in contact with lead through work or a hobby should change clothes and shower after finishing a task that involves lead-based products. Wash work clothes separately from the rest of your family's laundry.

Consumer Products

  • Some painted toys and old furniture contain lead.
  • Traditional home remedies, imported candies, and some cookware may also contain lead.

Ways to reduce lead exposure from Consumer Products:

  • Avoid using containers, cookware, or tableware that are not been shown to be lead free.
  • Remove recalled toys from children immediately.
  • If you are concerned that a product you own may contain If you are concerned that a product you own may contain lead, you can have it tested.
  • Laboratory testing is the most accurate method for determining if a product has lead. Use the internet or phone book to find a laboratory in your area.
  • In-home testing kits are also available at local hardware stores. Be aware that these kits only test the surface for lead and are not considered the most reliable method for determining the presence or absence of lead in a product.

Foods and Liquids Stored In Lead Crystal or Lead-Glazed Pottery or Porcelain

  • Food may become contaminated when lead leaches from these containers.

Avoid using containers, cookware, or tableware that has not been shown to be lead free.


Where can I find more information?

Lead Contamination in the News

Suncoast Safety Council is launching a safety campaign warning about the dangers of lead exposure as families renovate their older homes.



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Suncoast Safety Tips

Listen Up


Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common occupational diseases. Always wear your recommended equipment to prevent hearing loss (canal caps, earplugs or earmuffs), which may vary depending on the noise level and work environment. If you are uncertain, ask. If you have to shout over noise to be heard on or off the job, that noise could be damaging your hearing.