Given recent events, we thought we’d get you up to speed on lead and our suggestions for how keep your kids safe.
Q. What is the problem with lead anyway?
A. Lead is a metallic element which is a known neurologic toxin. When
it became apparent that lead could cause significant harmful effects in
humans, even at low levels of exposure, it was removed from gasoline
and paints in the 1970’s.
Blood levels of 10 micrograms/dl or more are considered toxic and may
have adverse health effects. Kids under six years of age are most
sensitive because the lead can impact the developing brain.
Most children do not have any symptoms when they are diagnosed with
mildly elevated blood lead levels. However, potential effects include
developmental delays, loss of developmental milestones (especially in
language skills), and learning difficulties. More serious health
consequences are also possible, especially with higher toxicity levels
and chronic exposure.
Q. How can my child be exposed to lead in the environment?
A. The most significant exposure risk is in children who live in homes
built before 1978. Lead paint dust can be ingested by young children,
especially when they spend time crawling on the floor and putting their
hands in their mouths. Lead water pipes can also be a source of
Lead continues to be used in products (paint, pottery glaze, cooking
products, pigment in cosmetics, crayons, paints, medications)
throughout the world, particularly in developing countries. And, when
these products are imported into the U.S, we may be exposed to them.
Q. What should I do if my child has toys that are recalled?
A. Odds are, your child has not had a significant lead exposure even if
you have more than one of the toys lying around your playroom. It’s a
little more concerning if your child was using one of these toys as a
teething toy or really enjoys exploring toys with his mouth.
It’s probably wise to bring up your concerns with your child’s doctor,
and get a blood lead level drawn depending on your child’s possible
risk of exposure. If your child’s blood lead level is less than 10
micrograms/dL, toss out the recalled toys and call it a day.