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Lead Paint

What is lead poisoning? How do children become lead poisoned?

Lead poisoning is a disease. It is most dangerous for children under six years old. In young children, too much lead in the body can cause permanent harm to the brain, kidneys, nervous system and red blood cells. Even at low levels, lead in children's bodies can slow growth and cause learning and behavioral problems. The main way children get lead poisoned is by swallowing lead paint dust. They do not have to chew on leaded surfaces or eat paint chips to become poisoned. Most childhood lead poisoning is caused by children's normal behavior of putting their hands or other things, such as toys, in their mouths. If their hands or these objects have touched lead dust, this may add lead to their bodies. Children can also be exposed to lead from such other sources as lead-contaminated soil or water, but these sources alone rarely cause lead poisoning. Lead can be found in soil near old, lead-painted houses. If children play in bare, leaded soil, or eat vegetables or fruit grown in such soil, or if leaded soil is tracked into the home and gets on children's hands or toys, lead may enter their bodies.

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