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Can children still be exposed to lead poisoning?

In the past, the poisoning of children from lead was a significant health hazard. The use of lead was prevalent in toys, paint and other household products. When children are exposed to lead, it can cause various developmental and health issues. Children are more at risk from the effects of lead than adults as their bodies absorb it more quickly and they are still developing. Since the use of lead has been banned and its use has become significantly scarcer, many may wonder if lead poisoning can still occur?

Lead was most commonly found in paint until it was banned in 1978 by the federal government. Any paint used in a home prior to that time may contain lead, and some homes may still contain lead-based paint. The dust found on the paint will likely also contain lead. In addition to paint, other common items such as candy wrappers and playground equipment may contain lead and pose a danger to children.

Even more dangerous, though, is the presence of lead in certain children's toys and costume jewelry. Any older toys that have been painted, or those that were built in a foreign country were not required to abide by the restriction imposed upon lead use in the United States today. Therefore, parents should be cautious if their kids play with such toys or place them in their mouth. Costume jewelry possesses the same dangers and often leads to more severe poisoning than toys that contain lead. Exposure to lead can typically be detected through a simple blood test, but certain symptoms may raise suspicion of lead poisoning. These symptoms include nausea, learning and developmental issues and anemia, among many others.

Parents today should be aware of the risks of lead even though its use is not as prevalent as it was in years past. Innocuous items such as toys and jewelry could pose a significant poisoning threat if they contain lead.

Source: Findlaw, "Lead in Toys and Lead Poisoning in Children," accessed on March 1, 2015

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