MN Department of Health Lead Information

What is lead?

Lead is a heavy metal that should not be found in the body.  Lead in the body can cause serious health problems.  The good news is that lead exposure can be prevented.

How does lead enter the body?

Lead can pass from a mother to her baby during pregnancy.  Toddlers and young children explore the world around them by putting objects into their mouths; this puts them at risk for swallowing lead dust.

There is NO safe blood lead level.

Most Common Source of Lead

Lead is no longer in gasoline or paint, but it may still be found in older homes build before 1978, especially in paint, dust, and soil.

Lead dust is currently the main source of lead exposure among children.  Opening and closing windows painted with lead-based paint is a major source of lead dust.  Children can breathe in or swallow the lead dust.

Keeping Kids Safe - Childhood Lead Exposure - Are Your Kids at Risk?

  • If your home was built before 1978 and has chipped or peeling paint, make repairs using safe work practices.  More information can be found on the Minnesota Department of Health website.
  • Wash children’s hands, pacifiers, and toys often to remove dust
  • Regularly wet-wipe floors, windows sills, and places where children play
  • Have children play on grass instead of bare dirt
  • Take off shoes when entering a home to avoid tracking in soil that may contain lead
  • If you work with lead in your job or hobby,change clothes and shower before you go home

Other Possible Sources

Some imported candies and toys contain lead.  For information on products that may contain lead, contact the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) or the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

Some imported pottery and handmade ceramics contain lead in the glaze.  Only use pottery for cooking or storing food if you are sure it does not contain lead.

Some water pipes may also contain lead.  When using tap water for drinking, cooking, or baby formula:

  1.    Run COLD water for at least 60 seconds before using.
  2.    Then heat water as needed.

Possible effects of lead exposure:

  •       Brain, kidney, and liver damage
  •       Slowed growth
  •       Decreased coordination
  •       Aggressive behavior
  •       Shortened attention span
  •       Lowered intelligence
  •       Reading or other learning problems

Children who were exposed to lead often look healthy.  They only way to know if you or your child has been exposed to lead is to have a blood lead test done.

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, please ask your child’s health care provider for a blood lead test.

  • Does your child live in or regularly visit a home or daycare build before 1978?
  • Does your child have a family member of playmate who has had lead exposure?
  • Does your child chew or eat non-food items such as dirt,paint chips, chalk, crayons, or woodwork?
  • Does anyone in the household have a job or hobby that uses lead?
  • Is your child eligible for MinnesotaCare, or Medical Assistance?

Blood lead testing information

Your healthcare provider can test your child’s blood for lead.

Contact your local Public Health Office for more information about how to keep your child lead-safe.