Lead Poisoning: Reducing Lead in Your Home

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Topic Overview

If you think your home may have lead hazards, get your home tested by a qualified person. If your home is contaminated, hire an experienced company to get rid of the lead. Do not try to get rid of it yourself. Disturbing lead paint without proper training or experience can make things worse.

Expert workers can stabilize or remove and dispose of lead-contaminated materials, including dust. Your local lead poisoning prevention program or health department can provide referrals to people licensed to do this.

To reduce lead in your home:

  • Have all home remodeling or refinishing projects done by professionals experienced in lead hazard control. Remove the family from the home during the project, and don't return until a proper cleanup has been done.
  • Don't scrape, sand, or burn painted wood. Otherwise you could create lead-contaminated dust.
  • Steam-clean carpets and clean rugs with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter if possible. Using other vacuums or beating carpets spreads dust into the air.
  • Wipe toys, windowsills, door frames, and uncarpeted floors with a wet cloth or damp mop at least once a week with warm, soapy water. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the soap off of the toys. It's easier to clean a smooth surface than a rough surface. You can paint window sills with semi-gloss paint, install aluminum liners in window wells, and seal wood floors with polyurethane or paint to make surfaces smoother.
  • Clean and then stay away from areas where dust tends to pile up, such as the corners of floors, windows, and porches, near heat registers, and the dirt along the outside of the house.
  • Don't prepare, serve, or store food or drinks in ceramic pottery or crystal glasses unless you are sure they are lead-free.
  • Don't let your children eat dirt or put things in their mouths that have been on the floor. Children sometimes eat paint chips or chew on painted surfaces, and they may put their hands in their mouths after they touch dirt or dust that contains lead. Wash pacifiers and bottles any time they fall on the floor.
  • Wash children's hands often, especially before they eat or sleep.
  • Plant grass or cover bare soil with wood chips. Plant bushes close to the house to keep children from playing in soil next to the house. Provide a sandbox with a solid floor and cover for play and keep it filled with clean sand.
  • Fix surfaces that rub against each other (like windows and doors against their frames). The rubbing can create lead-contaminated dust.
  • Consider whether or not toys in your home could contain lead. In 2007, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found high lead content in many children's toys and jewelry made in other countries. For a complete list of recalled products, see the CPSC website at www.cpsc.gov.


ByHealthwise Staff

Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics

Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine

Specialist Medical Reviewer R. Steven Tharratt, MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology

Current as ofMay 4, 2017