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The Facts About Lead

Lead poisoning is the #1 preventable environmental childhood disease. Every child ages 1 and 2 in Allegany County should be tested for high lead levels. Most cases of childhood lead poisoning in the state of Maryland are related to the degeneration of lead paint, which often occurs in high friction areas of houses, such as windowsills, door frames and painted porches. Lead poisoning is not detectable in children. In fact, most kids with high lead levels look very healthy. High lead levels that are not caught early result in problems such as damage to the brain and nervous system, behavior, learning and hearing problems, slowed growth and headaches. If you live in or spend time in a house built before the 1950’s or with pre-1978 paint, please call your physician or the Allegany Health Department at (301) 759-5077.

Paint is not the only item that can cause high lead levels in children. Common objects such as imported venetian blinds, phone cords, imported pottery, old metal game pieces, candle wicks, imported jewelry, soil, keys and solder can be hidden sources of lead poisoning. If you would like more information about the hazards of these objects, ask your pediatrician, or contact the Allegany County Health Department at (301) 759-5077.

Many toys have been found to contain lead and may be harmful to a child. For recalled toys, please go to: www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel.html.

Lead in bare soil can poison children. Soil gets in children's hands and toys, and can be tracked into the house on shoes. Cover bare soil with grass with grass, plants, mulch, or gravel. Give children a safe place to play such as a sandbox with clean sand. Stop dirt at the door by either removing your shoes or placing a rug at each entry door and wash the rug regularly.

Lead can also be found in some water and household plumbing. Use only cold water for cooking and drinking. Let the tap water run cold before using. NEVER use warm water for baby formulas or concentrated juices that are mixed with water.