Action Steps to Reduce Lead Exposure

  • In older homes that may have been painted with lead-based paint (often built before 1978); ensure household members avoid peeling paint and paint dust in window sills. Homes built before 1950 pose the greatest hazard to children because they are more likely to contain lead-based paint. Since lead-based paint wasn’t banned until 1978, 83% to 86% of these homes have lead-based paint. 47% of Fairfax County homes were built before 1978 and are at risk of having lead based paint.
  • Any peeling paint should be removed and the paint chips swept away. Removal of lead paint is hazardous and should be done by a qualified professional. Children should not be present when scraping or cleaning up paint chips.
  • Dust should be kept to a minimum by damp mopping and using a wet cloth to clean walls, window sills, and other surfaces.
  • Wash your hands regularly, particularly before meals and after playing outside.
  • Do not store food in open cans, particularly if the cans are imported.
  • Avoid eating from, cooking with or storing food in pottery and ceramic dinnerware that is intended for decorative use or the lead content is unknown.
  • Eat foods rich in calcium and iron to prevent lead absorption into the body.
  • Anyone whose homes were built prior to 1986, or who may be particularly concerned about lead in their household plumbing, should let cold water run from the faucet for 60-90 seconds prior to using water for drinking or cooking, keeping in mind that boiling water does not reduce lead in water.
  • Read about lead hazard information for renovation, repair and painting activities in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pamphlet Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools, which also is available in Spanish. 
  • More tips for preventing childhood lead poisoning may be found on the EPA website or obtained by calling 1-800-424-LEAD.


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