Prevent Lead Poisoning in Older Homes

Published on October 28, 2020

Person scrapes old paint from window sill

Weld County — The Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment is pleased to recognize National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 25-31, 2020. A joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the goal of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is to empower families and other stakeholders to take action.

About 3.6 million households in the United States have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead hazards. Children less than 6 years old are especially at risk because their bodies are still developing and growing rapidly. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, the ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. According to the CDC, about 500,000 American children between the ages of 1 and 5 have blood lead levels greater than or equal to the level of blood reference value, the level at which CDC recommends public health action. The good news is childhood lead poisoning is 100% preventable. The only way to know if your child has an elevated blood lead level is to have them tested. Testing is generally recommended for children at ages 1 and 2 living in housing built prior to 1978, and older children who have not previously been tested and are at risk.

Lead can be found inside and outside the home, including in the water that travels through lead pipes or in the soil around the house. The most common source of exposure, however, is from lead-based paint, which was used in many homes built before 1978. Children (and adults) can get lead into their bodies by breathing in lead dust (especially during activities such as renovations, repairs, or painting) or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food or on food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, and other places, or by eating paint chips or soil that contain lead. Children also can become exposed to lead dust from adults’ jobs or hobbies, and from some metal toys or toys painted with lead-based paint. Children are not exposed equally to lead, nor suffer its consequences in the same way. As well, these disparities unduly burden minority and low-income families and their communities.

The problem is largely preventable with increased testing and education. For more information on how to prevent childhood lead poisoning, please visit the CDC webpage on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention. For Health Department questions related to lead poisoning prevention, please call (970) 400-2225.