Lead

Lead paint windowsill - GLLEN

When it comes to chemicals, lead has one of the strongest links to neurological harm.

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that can cause learning disabilities, lower IQ, behavior and other permanent cognitive (brain) impacts, even at low levels of exposure.

Key facts on lead:

  • There is no safe level of lead for kids or adults.
  • Children can be exposed to lead from paint, drinking water, products, soil and even food.
  • In kids, lead poisoning is linked to behaviors like ADHD, aggression, hyperactivity and learning challenges like learning disabilities, reduced ability to pay attention, and poor problem-solving skills.
  • In adults, lead poisoning is linked to hypertension, hearing loss, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s, kidney damage, reproductive issues, & social & behavioral challenges.
  • Children with elevated blood lead levels are 7 times more likely to drop out of school & 4 times more likely to end up in the criminal justice system. The good news is that lead poisoning is 100% preventable.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and other experts say that there is NO safe level of lead for children. APP also states that “schools water fountains in schools do not exceed water lead concentrations of more than 1 part per billion”.The US EPA’s guideline of 15 parts per billion (its lead and copper rule for public drinking water supplies) is not health-protective, it is more of that is considered an attainable limit. The EPA and CDC acknowledge that the goal should be zero. “Because no safe blood level has been identified for young children, all sources of lead exposure for children should be controlled or eliminated. EPA has set the maximum contaminant level goal for lead in drinking water at zero because lead can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels.”

While lead in paint is still the biggest source of exposure for children, we know that lead can also be found in drinking water, products, and even our food and drinks. See our fact sheets below for information and tips. You can also read about lead and other heavy metals in baby and toddler food.

Resources

Lead Poisoning 101 Webinar presented by LDA and the Ecology Center

Download the Lead Poisoning 101 Slides (PDF)

Lead Poisoning: Health Impacts & How to Protect Your Family presented by LDA, Ecology Center, Parents for Healthy Homes, Dr Nicholas Newman (pediatrician and lead expert) and the Great Lakes Lead Elimination Network

Download the Lead Poisoning and Health Impacts (PDF)

LDA Fact Sheets on Lead:

What You Should Know about Lead, the Basics (PDF)

What You Should Know about Lead in Drinking Water (PDF)

Eliminating Lead Risks in Schools and Child Care Facilities: A United and Urgent Call to Action for Children (2018) – pdf report by LDA and partners.

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Tracy Gregoire

Tracy Gregoire

Tracy Gregoire is the Healthy Children Project Director for the Learning Disabilities Association of America, and is a long-time advocate for children’s health.

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