Lead is hazardous and exposure is a serious health concern, especially for children and women of child-bearing age.

What should you know?

  • During pregnancy, lead is released from the mother to the fetus and can result in reduced growth of the fetus or premature birth.
  • Lead exposure, even at low levels, has been shown to harm the developing brains and bodies of infants and young children, which includes:
    • >> Lower IQ or ability to learn, increased behavior and learning problems, slowed growth and hyperactivity
    • >> Impaired school performance and increased juvenile delinquency
    • >> Increased childhood health problems such as speech and language delays, hearing problems, kidney damage, seizures, and in rare cases, death
  • Infants and children absorb 5 to 10 times more lead on an empty stomach than adults.
  • Children generally ingest lead-contaminated soil and dust at higher rates than adults because of hand-to-mouth behaviors.
  • There are often no signs or symptoms of lead exposure. The only way to know if you or your child is being affected by lead is to get a blood lead test.

What can you do?

  • If possible, choose breastfeeding as the healthiest option for your infant’s first year.
  • Women of child-bearing age and children under 6 should ALWAYS drink and cook with filtered or bottled water; this includes water used for formula or juices. Buy an NSF/ANSI 53 water filter that is certified to remove lead.
  • If you cannot afford a filter, always run the cold water tap for 3 minutes between uses.
  • Use paper towels, soap and water to wipe surfaces where paint is chipping, peeling, cracking or chalking. Clean these surfaces weekly.
  • Wash dust and paint flakes off of hands, bodies, toys, bottles, clothes, windows, pacifiers and floors with soap and water.

What should you NOT do?

  • DO NOT cook or make infant formula with hot tap water.
  • Boiling water DOES NOT remove lead.
  • DO NOT walk through the home with shoes or clothes if you work with lead, are renovating a home or have recently been exposed to bare soil.

Additional resources:

  • Get tested for lead exposure: Contact your doctor, local WIC Clinic or your city’s Health Department.
  • Well Fed Means Less Lead! See the Get Well Fed page for tips on protecting your family through the use of healthy foods.
  • To find a NSF/ANSI53 water filter certified to remove lead check our resources page.

What you eat can help protect your family against lead!