Learn about childhood lead poisoning
What is lead poisoning?
Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing lead. Lead is poison when it gets into the body.
Lead can stay in the body for a long time. Young children absorb lead more easily than adults. The harm done by lead does not go away. Lead in the body 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
How will I know if my child has lead poisoning?
Most children who have lead poisoning do not look or act sick. A lead test is the only way to know if your child has lead poisoning. Ask your healthcare provider to test your child for lead.
Some children may have:
- Upset stomach
- Trouble eating or sleeping
- Trouble paying attention
How do children get lead poisoning?
Most of the lead poisoning in Massachusetts comes from lead paint and dust in older homes. Many homes built before 1978 have lead paint on the inside and outside of the building.
When old paint peels and cracks, it creates lead paint chips and lead dust. Lead dust also comes from opening and closing old windows.
Home repairs and renovations also create lead dust.
Lead dust lands on the floor. Lead gets into a child's body when he puts his hands and toys in his mouth. Children can also breathe in lead dust. Children between the ages of 9 months and 6 years are at risk, but toddlers who are teething and learning and crawl are most at risk.