By Tom Plant

Lead poisoning is a preventable disease, and lead awareness is the key for families with children to keep kids safe.

Things you can do to protect your family from lead poisoning:

  • Get your child tested for lead poisoning, and continue to monitor your child for lead poisoning in the future. Your primary care doctor can do this test. Don’t have a primary care doctor? Call the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050.
  • If you are renovating your home, hire a contractor who has been trained in Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule. Ask to see his or her training certificate and licensure by the State. Learn more at Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) or the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Get your home inspected for lead-based paint.
  • Ensure that your children’s toys have not been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission due to a lead paint violation – click here.
  • Get your drinking water tested for lead.
  • Use the raised bed method to garden in your yard. Plan your raised bed away from the foundation of the house and surface runoff patterns in the yard. The raised bed should be filled with clean tested or certified topsoil. Use pots and containers to grow tomatoes and some vegetables, etc. Do not disturb or use native soils, unless it has been tested for lead, heavy toxic metals and polycyclic or polynuclear hydrocarbons (PAHs).
  • Cover any bare soil in your yard and children’s play areas with grass or mulch. Mulch should be replaced several times a year. Cover children’s sandbox when not in use.
  • Wash children’s hand after playing outside and inside before eating food or drink.
  • Do not use imported cookware, plates, platters, or lead crystal for preparing or serving food or drinks.
  • Place a mat outside the exterior entrance door and interior entrance door to wipe feet, and take off your shoes before entering your home.
  • Wipe off your pet’s paws if they have been playing or digging in soil outside before entering the house. Pets can also be lead poisoned!

The only way to know for certain if your child is lead poisoned is get a blood test. You can have your primary care provider screen your child for lead poisoning. Don’t have a primary care doctor? We can help. Call the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050.

In January 2012, a committee of experts recommended that CDC change its blood lead “level of concern.” The recommendation was based on a growing number of scientific studies that showed even low lead levels can cause lifelong health effects.

In May 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduced the level of concern for lead poisoning for children under six years of age from 10 micrograms per deciliter to 5 micrograms per deciliter. This new level will mean more children will be identified with lead exposure and elevated blood lead levels and that state and local health departments and primary care providers can take action and increase surveillance and monitoring of the child’s blood lead level.

Want to learn more? Visit our Lead Poisoning Prevention Program website here.

Tom Plant works in BPHC’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.