By now every parent should know about the danger lead paint poses to young children. Lead is a soft metal that has been used for years in manufacturing glassware and plumbing fixtures, and in the past it was contained in gasoline and paint. Children may swallow harmful amounts if they play in areas where peeling or chipping lead paint accumulates in the soil and dust around a home.
Children under age 2 are particularly vulnerable, because they taste dirt, put their hands in their mouths, chew on toys and may eat without washing their hands. Lead is absorbed into their developing bodies and can stunt growth, damage the brain and kidneys, and cause anemia. Lead exposure has been linked to central nervous system effects, such as behavior problems and impaired mental development.
So when it comes to your children’s safety, what can you do to help prevent lead poisoning? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following:
•Avoid purchasing non-brand or older toys likely to contain lead paint.
•Do not give young children toy costume jewelry, since it has been associated with the highest lead content.
•Encourage your children to wash their hands frequently, especially before eating and after playing.
•Before moving into an older home or apartment, check for possible lead problems.
•If you have lead pipes, use cold water for preparing formula, drinking or cooking. Run tap water one to two minutes before each use.
•Repair areas where paint is flaking or peeling before putting cribs, playpens, beds or highchairs next to them.