• Lead Poisoning

  • It is important to find out if your child might be exposed to lead. Lead is a metal that is poisonous to our bodies even in small amounts. If children have lead in their blood they might have slow growth and development; delays in learning, hearing, and speech; and behavior problems.

    How do children get lead poisoning?

    • Touching lead-based paint then putting their hands in their mouths.
    • Breathing in dust from newly repaired floors or walls that may have lead in them.
    • Drinking water that flows through old lead pipes and faucets that may have lead in it.
    • Eating food stored in bowls painted with lead paint. Some children eat non- food items such as dirt and paint chips which may have lead in them. This habit is called pica.
    • Playing or touching toys, jewelry or objects from countries without strict lead rules.
    • Coming in contact with folk or home remedies from many cultures, which have lead in them (such as greta or azarcon, litharge, ba- baw- san, ghasard, and daw tway).

    I’m pregnant. Can lead hurt my unborn baby?

    Lead is especially dangerous for pregnant people and their babies. Too much lead can cause high blood pressure in the mother, which over time can cause damage to the mother’s health. Once lead is in your system it is hard to get out or treat. Lead gets into the bodies of children under the age of six easier than into adults.

    Some results of lead exposure can result in:

    • Damage to the brain, kidneys, and nervous system
    • Babies born too soon or too small
    • Learning problems in children
    • A miscarriage

    How can I tell if my child has lead poisoning?

    • Most children do not show symptoms of lead poisoning.
    • The best way to tell is to have your doctor test your baby’s blood when they’re one year old, and then again at age 2.

    How do I protect my children and family from lead poisoning?

    • Wash your children’s hands and toys often.
    • Wipe down the floors with a wet mop and wet-wipe window sills.
    • Take your shoes off when you enter the house to prevent bringing in dirt with lead in it.
    • Keep children away from peeling paint. Put tape over loose paint.
    • Make sure your landlord follows the law and removes peeling paint. Children and pregnant women should not live in housing built before 1978 that is being fixed up.
    • Use cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking and making baby formula. Run drinking water for 30 to 60 seconds before using it.

    If you live in New York City and think your house or apartment may have lead in it, call 311.

    For any questions about lead and other environmental health issues call the NYS Environmental Health Info line: 1-800-458-1158.

    To learn more, please visit:

    New York City Department of Health: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/lead-poisoning-prevention.page