Childhood Lead Poisoning and Testing
Lead poisons children when it enters their bodies. Most lead poisoning cases in Massachusetts are related to lead paint and dust in homes built before 1978.
When lead paint peels and cracks, it creates paint chips and dust. Lead dust can also come from: opening and closing old windows; and repairs or renovations in older homes. Once airborne, children can inhale lead dust. It also collects on surfaces, like floors and toys, and gets into the body when a child puts objects in their mouth.
Most children with lead poisoning do not look or act sick. Some children may have stomachache; trouble eating or sleeping; headache; or trouble paying attention. Because these symptoms are so common, the only way to know if your child has lead poisoning is to get them tested.
Even low levels of lead can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and nervous system; slow growth and development; damage hearing and speech; and cause learning and behavioral problems.
Children should be tested at ages 1, 2, 3, and 4 years old. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to test your child for lead.
Lead testing is available at your pediatrician’s office, and at family/community health centers. If your child is 4 years old or younger, they should be tested each year for lead. So, when you’re getting school supplies this summer, don’t forget to add your child’s annual lead test to the list!
For more information, call the CLPPP Helpline: 1-800-532-9571 (Monday-Friday 9am- 5pm).