Know the Facts

Protect Your Child from Lead Exposure

At a glance

Exposure to even small amounts of lead can harm your child. Children younger than 6 years of age are most vulnerable to lead poisoning. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, lead can harm your baby. Learn how you can help you protect your child from lead exposure.

Two toddler boys and two toddler girls play with toys in a preschool classroom.

Fact: Lead exposure can cause lifelong health problems.

Lead exposure harms several body systems including the brain, nervous, and reproductive systems and results in:

  • Developmental and growth delays
  • Hearing and speech problems
  • Difficulty learning and paying attention
  • Serious illness and death
A diverse group of young boys and girls on playground equipment.
Young children are most vulnerable to lead poisoning.

Get more information about the health effects of lead exposure.

Fact: A blood lead test is the best way to know if your child has been exposed.

Most children exposed to lead do not appear to be sick. Talk to your child's healthcare provider about getting a blood lead test. For children ages 1–5 years, consider getting them tested for lead if they:

  • Live in a home built before 1978
  • Receive Medicaid services
  • Are an immigrant, refugee, or adopted from another country (CDC recommends all refugee children be tested upon arrival and several months after resettling in their new home)
  • Live near a known source of lead, such as a lead smelter or mine
A gloved hand holding a vial with a lead test.
Healthcare professionals can recommend blood lead level testing in children.

Based on your child's blood lead level, your healthcare provider can recommend what to do next. Learn more about CDC's recommended actions based on blood lead level.

Protect your child from the harmful effects of lead from the most common sources

Have your home inspected for lead if it was built before 1978.

If you rent, ask your landlord to have the home inspected or to share results of recently conducted inspections.

If you own your home, have it inspected by a certified lead inspector. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can help you locate one.

A row of houses.
Housing built before the lead-based paint ban in 1978 might be a source of lead exposure.

By getting your home inspected for lead, you can find out if lead is present and take steps to remove it.

If lead is present in your home or soil at levels above EPA standards, get your children tested for lead. Then, make your home lead safe by taking the steps listed below.

  • Review EPA standards.
  • If you rent, ask your landlord to have lead hazards removed from your home.
  • If you own, contact a certified lead abatement specialist to address the hazard.
  • Clean floors, window frames, windowsills, and other surfaces regularly to reduce leaded dust. Use a mop or sponge with warm water and an all-purpose cleaner. Remember, never mix ammonia and chlorine (bleach) products together because they can form a dangerous gas.
  • Use soap and water to wash children's hands and toys often, especially before they eat and sleep.
  • Leave shoes by the door or outside.
  • Cover bare soil with grass, mulch, or wood chips and prevent children from playing in bare soil that may be contaminated with lead. Learn more about lead in soil.
A child's hand catching water as it falls.
Older lead pipes can contaminate water.

If you are repairing or renovating a home built before 1978, take steps to do so safely.

Repairs and renovations in homes built before 1978 can create dangerous lead dust, especially from processes such as heating, sanding, or scraping paint. Safety steps include the following:

  • Keep children and those who are or may be pregnant away from areas that are being repaired or renovated.
  • Ensure that anyone who repairs or renovates your home is trained in lead-safe work practices. Locate contractors certified by EPA or a state.

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