How Children Come in Contact with Lead
Babies and young children commonly come in contact with lead by swallowing it. Lead dust or soil clings to hands, toys and objects that children put in their mouths. They may eat, chew or suck on lead-painted objects — such as windowsills, toys or furniture. Babies and young children are at highest risk because their developing bodies absorb lead more easily.
Sources of Lead
Dust from lead-based paint is the major source of lead poisoning among children. Children can be poisoned by lead in their own home, at child care or in a caretaker's home. Any home built before 1978 likely has lead-based paint in it. In 1978, lead was banned from house paint, but about 70% of Vermont homes were built before 1978.
Over time, lead paint on surfaces crumbles into invisible dust — especially from opening and closing doors and windows — that contaminates homes and soil. Even if the home has been repainted since 1978, the opening and closing of doors and windows can release lead dust from the original lead-based paint.
Lead can also come from your job or hobbies — such as auto body work, painting or scraping paint, making stained glass, or casting lead toys, sinkers or bullets. Home renovations can create lead dust that can harm children and people who are pregnant.
Learn more about lead hazards and how to prevent lead poisoning
Health Effects of Lead Poisoning
The harm done by lead may never go away. Too much lead in the body, or lead poisoning, in children can:
Hurt the brain, kidneys and nervous system
Slow down growth and development
Make it hard to learn
Damage hearing and speech
Cause behavior problems
Curious to learn how lead poisoning damages our brains? Watch this video