You asked

Is lead paint dangerous?

An infant can acquire lead poisoning by either swallowing or breathing in lead. Often, the poisoning is caused by hidden lead. Lead paint dust remains the number one source of lead poisoning in children.

Lead poisoning risks are varied. It can effect a child's development, lower their IQ, cause speech and language delays, reading skill deficits, visual problems and learning disabilities. Since lead can also harm babies in the uterus, it is important to protect yourself from lead before becoming pregnant.

Children under the age of three are at the greatest risk for lead poisoning, as this is the age that they are most likely to put anything and everything into their mouths. Lead paint chips often have a sweet taste, making it especially dangerous. Only allow your baby to teethe on age appropriate toys, and never allow them near old, peeling paint.

Most people aren't aware that lead dust is a matter of great importance. Homes that have windows and doors painted with lead paint release a small amount lead dust in to the air every time they open and close. Scores of older homes also have contaminated soil under the eaves. Some, depending on their age, will have contaminated water from lead pipes. 

The good news for home owners is on the walls. If there is no obvious peeling or chipping of the old paint, you can easily encapsulate the lead with a solid coat of new paint. Doors and windows should be tested and be professionally handled. If your water is contaminated, you can try using a faucet filter and simply let the water run for a few minutes. If you are concerned about lead, talk to your paediatrician or local health clinic.

How do you know if your child has lead poisoning? Children with lead poisoning usually don't look or feel sick. The only sure way to know is to get a blood lead test. Children are at risk if they:
•    Live in or spend a lot of time in a home built before 1978
•    Live near busy roads or industry
•    Live with people who work with lead 
•    Eat paint chips, plaster, or soil
•    Have a brother or sister with a high lead level

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