Lead-Based Paint

Lead is a highly toxic metal that may cause a range of health problems, especially in young children.

Problems Caused by Lead

When lead is absorbed into the body, it can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs, like the kidneys, nerves and blood. Lead may also cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures and in extreme cases, death.


Some symptoms of lead poisoning may include:
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Stomachaches
  • Tiredness
Please note that children who are lead poisoned may show no symptoms.


Both inside and outside the home, deteriorated lead-paint mixes with household dust and soil and becomes tracked in. Children may become lead poisoned by:
  • Eating paint chips found in homes with peeling or flaking lead-based paint
  • Playing in lead-contaminated soil
  • Putting their hands or other lead-contaminated objects into their mouths

What You Can Do

If your home was built before 1978:
  • If possible, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a "higher efficiency" collection bag,
  • Mop smooth floors (using a damp mop) weekly to control dust,
  • Pick up loose paint chips carefully with a paper towel and discard in the trash, then wipe the surface clean with a wet paper towel,
  • Take off shoes when entering the house
  • Take precautions to avoid creating lead dust when remodeling, renovating or maintaining your home,
  • Test for lead hazards by a lead professional. (Have the soil tested too).
  • Vacuum carpets and upholstery to remove dust,
  • Wipe down flat surfaces, like window sills, with a damp paper towel and throw away the paper towel,
You can also do the following for your child:
  • Avoid using home remedies (such as arzakon, greta, pay-loo-ah, or litargirio) and cosmetics (such as kohl or alkohl) that contain lead.
  • Certain candies, such as tamarindo candy jam products from Mexico, may contain high levels of lead in the wrapper or stick. Be cautious when providing imported candies to children.
  • Frequently wash your child's hands and toys to reduce contact with dust.
  • Have your child's blood lead level tested at age 1 and 2. Children from 3 to 6 years of age should have their blood tested, if they have not been tested before and:
    • They have a sibling or playmate who has or did have lead poisoning.
    • They live in or regularly visit a house built before 1950.
    • They live in or regularly visit a house built before 1978 with on-going or recent renovations or remodeling.
  • Some tableware, particularly folk terra cotta plates and bowls from Latin America, may contain high levels of lead that can leach into food.
  • Use cold tap water for drinking and cooking.