Prevention

The prevention of lead poisoning seems very simple when you realize that all you have to do is avoid eating lead or breathing in lead dust. However, if you are living in a home that has lead in the water, soil, paint or other sources this can be more difficult. The following list contains just some of the ways to prevent lead poisoning. If you know or suspect that you are living in a home with lead hazards, please contact the Jasper County Health Departments' Childhood Lead Prevention team for more information on precautions you can take.

- Personal Hygiene
- Diet
- Soil and Dust
- Water
- Paint
- Remodeling


Personal Hygiene

One of the simplest ways to keep yourself and your family safe from lead is to practice proper hand washing techniques. If there is lead on your property, chances are there is lead dust in your home from friction surfaces or fromSoap contaminated soil. To prevent this dust from being swallowed it is a good idea to wash your own and your children's hands frequently, especially before preparing or eating food , after playing outside, after playing in or around windows or doorways, after crawling on the floor, after handling outdoor toys or anytime they look dirty. Another thing to be cautious of is letting children put a dropped bottle or pacifier back in their mouth before it has been cleaned well. If you have a job or hobby that brings you into contact with lead, lead can be carried into your home on your skin and hair, clothing and shoes. If shower facilities are offered at work, use them and put on clean clothing before coming home to your family. If not, try to remove your work clothing in a laundry room and place the clothing directly into the washing machine to be washed separately from children's clothing. It is also a good idea to remove shoes before entering your house. Shower before you make physical contact with the rest of the family.


Diet

To help children avoid lead poisoning, make sure they get at least three meals a day. Full stomachs are less likely to absorb lead. Providing a diet high in iron, protein, vitamin C, calcium, and low in fats/oils will also  help the body to absorb less lead. Avoid allowing your child to eat food that has fallen onto the ground because it may be contaminated with lead particles. Ensure you store and serve foods properly. Avoid storing/serving food in open metal cans, pottery, ceramics or lead crystal. Provide a daily vitamin supplement to ensure that the child is getting all the proper nutrients needed.


Soil and Dust

To help reduce the potential for getting lead poisoning from contaminated soil and dust, try to minimize contact with these sources. Plant bushes or use mulch or rock to cover contaminated soil in the drip zone of the home to make the soil inaccessible. Plant grass seed in bare soil areas, avoid walking on bare soil areas, keep children from playing in these areas and from digging in the dirt. Use welcome mats at entryways to the home to reduce the amount of soil brought in on your shoes. Wash hands after contact with pets that may have lead dust in their coats from being in contaminated soil. Inside the home, frequently clean the entryways and window sills using a wet cleaning method. Dry dusting or sweeping can spread lead dust and introduce it into the air causing more of a hazard. Using mops or wet clothes and rinsing them out thoroughly and frequently during use will actually pick up and remove lead dust rather than spreading it around. Use a HEPA filter vacuum if one is available. If you are cleaning an area known to contain lead dust and do not have a HEPA filter vacuum, one is available for loan at no cost at the Jasper County Health Department.

Follow these tips anytime you are visiting a place that you do not know to be free of lead such as the home of a relative or a community park or at home when you know or suspect that there may be lead hazards. This will greatly reduce the likelihood of getting lead poisoning.


Water

If your water is found to contain lead, do not drink or cook with your water until you receive test results showing that the lead level is within the recommended limits for lead in water. You may be able to find a filtration system that is specifically designed to remove this type of contamination, but be careful not to spend your money on a system that will not do what you need. Many filters and water softeners are available that will do nothing at all to remove lead from your water. If the problem is found to be in the plumbing, an option would be to replace the old plumbing. If the problem is from well water it may be necessary to have a new well put in. It is safe to use this water for washing clothes, bathing and showering, but be careful to ensure bathing children do not drink the water.


Paint

If paint inside or outside your home contains lead, it is important to monitor the paint to make sure there is no chipping or peeling. As long as there is an intact layer of a non-lead based paint covering a surface, it is not considered a lead hazard. If paint is chipping, it is important to pick up and dispose of any loose paint chips. Stabilize the damaged paint without creating dust (no sanding!) and re-paint with a non-lead based paint. Remove and dispose of any loose paint chips. If lead based paint is present on a friction surface (any surface which rubs against another surface creating friction and possibly lead paint dust) painting over the paint will not remove the hazard. On door and window components the easiest thing to do is to not use the door or window. Paint or nail windows shut. Remove doors from hinges. This is not always possible and the problem can be remediated by removing and replacing the door or window and the frame. A less expensive solution is to install plastic tracks along the friction surfaces to prevent the painted surfaces from touching. For windows, it is sometimes effective to cover them with plastic sheeting and/or arrange furniture in the house in a way that blocks access to the window by children.


Remodeling

When performing any remodeling activities in a home built before 1978, it is best to take precautions to limit exposure to lead paint or dust. The Health Department recommends that licensed lead abatement workers perform remodeling or remediation work done on a home built before 1978. This is especially true when there is known or suspected lead paint or when children are present. If you must do the work yourself, take precautions. Keep children away from remodeling activities! Completely out of the home is best. Work on one room at a time and keep that room blocked off from the rest of the home with plastic sheeting. Be careful not to track lead dust into the rest of the home on feet or clothing. Remove furniture and other objects from the room that may not be easily cleaned when the remodeling is complete. If sanding or scraping must be done, use a misting bottle to wet the paint first to reduce the amount of dust created. Always wear a mask. The most common way for an adult to get lead poisoning is through breathing in lead dust during remodeling. Clean each room thoroughly before taking down the plastic and moving to another room in the house. Be sure that all traces of dust have been removed using a wet cleaning method and/or a HEPA filter vacuum. Call the Jasper County Health Department Childhood Lead Prevention team with any questions or for more information on safely remodeling or removing lead from your home.