Written by: Eco-Healthy Child Care®
As the mother of two young children (2.5 years and 9 months) I work to protect my children from Lead, and other common substances that may harm their health. Like all mothers, I want my children to thrive and to have the best future possible.
Children’s bodies react differently to Lead than adults. Their bodies are growing and developing rapidly and their immature nervous system can be permanently harmed by Lead exposure. Children can absorb more Lead through their stomachs than adults, especially if they are deficient in iron.
As the National Director of the Eco-Healthy Child Care® (EHCC) program, I worry that other mothers may not be aware of such environmental health hazards in and around their home. Or who don’t know simple steps they can take to protect their children.
When it comes to Lead, I know that no amount of exposure to this heavy metal is safe. So, we must do what we can to protect our children. Even simple steps, like frequent hand washing with soap and water, or using only cold – not hot — tap water for cooking, drinking and making baby formula, protect children from Lead exposure. Did you know that cold water is much less likely to leach Lead from pipes than warm water?
We also make sure that our walls are free of cracking or peeling Lead-based paint wherever our children spend time. The government did not ban Lead-based paint until 1978. Many older homes, churches, and buildings have Lead paint both inside and on the outside. If the Lead-based paint is intact, it should be left undisturbed. If any paint in an older building is cracking or peeling, it is very important to have the paint tested to see whether it may contain Lead. Our house was recently built (2006), but we have asked our friends and family members to have their paint tested to be sure it’s Lead free. Once I choose a child care provider, I will make sure that their facility is free from Lead hazards as well.
Any amount of cracking or peeling paint is potentially dangerous, as tiny (not visible to the naked eye) particles of dust from Lead paint can be inhaled. This Lead can also end up in dust in the home that can get on an infant’s or toddler’s hands, and thus into their bodies.
Other helpful Eco-Healthy Child Care® recommendations are:
Reduce lead absorption in children by eating well.
– Children should have a balanced diet that high is calcium and iron
– If you renovate or remodel a building built before 1978, make sure the contractor you hire is from a ‘Lead-Safe Certified Firm.’
– Avoid soft pliable plastic toys made of vinyl (rubber duckies, baby dolls, baby bath books), as some of these products have been found to contain high levels of Lead.
Unfortunately, too many American children have high blood lead levels. Families can find out about getting tested at www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead.
For more tips to protect children from Lead, click here.
EHCC helps early childhood learning environments to be as healthy, safe and green as possible by reducing children’s exposure to toxic chemicals. Click here find out more about EHCC.