The most important things you can do to make a difference are to learn about lead poisoning and to protect children (and others in your life, including pets!) from exposure to lead dust by being aware of sources and keeping an eye out for lead hazards in their life: schools, libraries, friends’ homes, antique stores, recycling/rebuilding centers, neighborhood construction - any place that older, deteriorating (or freshly disturbed) painted surfaces or items can be found, as well as the contaminated soil surrounding older buildings and keeping those children away from the potential sources of contamination.

Making sure the interior of your home is lead-safe is also a great place to start. Take your shoes off before you enter (so you do not bring in outside contaminants.) Get a hazard assessment of your home (some cities have programs where they will do this for free if you have children under 6 in the home and your home was built before 1978.) If you rent, your landlord is required by law to make sure your home is lead-safe.  Make sure any assessment includes testing of the soil around the home.

The present Federal standards for a lead-safe environment (for example, an interior floor wipe sample lead level measurement “below 40 ug/sq. ft.” [40 micrograms per square foot]) are not based on current science. Recent studies suggest that complying with these standards (as a minimum) will still leave your child at risk; in the meantime, try to make your home safer than current Federal standards. It is expected that they will be updated soon (based on recent announcements by the NCHH). Following the above example, a prudent guideline for for interior floors would/should/will soon likely be “below 10 ug/sq.ft.” [10 micrograms per square foot].

Know your child’s BLL (blood lead level) and understand what it means. Do not just let your pediatrician tell you the child tested “negative” or that they are “okay”. Ask what the actual BLL (blood lead level) number is from their test! Ask what the margin of error is on that test from the lab (some labs are more accurate than others - with margin of error ranging from 10% to +-2 whole BLL points!) I believe the target for a healthy child’s BLL should be below 1 ug/dl [one microgram per deciliter] (or “less than 2” if that is the lowest reading your doctor’s lab can resolve). Any blood lead level over a 2.0 means there is a source of lead exposure in that child’s life. Determining the source of exposure and cleaning it up or removing it from the child’s life will prevent them from suffering possible severe and irreversible neurological damage. IF your child tests positive from a finger prick test, follow up with a venous draw to confirm the results and get a more accurate reading.

If your child has flu-like symptoms with no fever (e.g. vomiting/ diarrhea/ headaches/ body-aches) demand a blood lead test from your pediatrician - even if you pediatrician thinks they are “not at-risk”(!)

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