What is lead? Lead is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts in the earth’s crust. While it has some beneficial uses, it can be toxic to humans and animals causing of health effects.
Lead can damage nearly every system in the human body, and has harmful effects on both adults and children. Lead poisoning is the greatest environmental threat to children in Ohio.
Lead is particularly dangerous to children because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. Babies and young children can also be more highly exposed to lead because they often put their hands and other objects that can have lead from dust or soil on them into their mouths. Children may also be exposed to lead by eating and drinking food or water containing lead or from dishes or glasses that contain lead, inhaling lead dust from lead-based paint or lead-contaminated soil or from playing with toys with lead paint.
These requirements apply to all children in Ohio under the age of six years. There is no “safe” level of lead in the blood – any confirmed level is an indication that the child has been exposed.
Children should be tested at age 1 and 2 years, or up to 6 years if no previous test has been done, based on the following criteria:
- If the child is on Medicaid, he/she must be tested according to Ohio and Medicaid Rules.
- If the child resides in a high-risk zip code he/she must be tested according to Ohio law.
- High-risk zip codes in Williams County: 43517, 43543, 43506
- If the parent(s) responds “yes” or the answer is unknown to one or more of the questions below, the child must be tested:
- Does the child live in or regularly visit a residential unit, child care facility, or school built before 1950?
- Does the child live in or regularly visit a residential unit, child care facility, or school built before 1978 that has deteriorated paint?
- Does the child live in or regularly visit a residential unit built before 1978 with recent, ongoing, or planned renovation/remodeling?
- Does the child have a sibling or playmate that has or did have lead poisoning?
- Does the child come in frequent contact with an adult who has a lead-related hobby, or occupation?
- Does the child live near an active/former lead smelter, battery recycling plant, or other industry known to generate airborne lead dust?
Where can I get more information about lead?
- Call 1-877-LEADSAFE (532-3723) for more information about childhood lead poisoning and precautions for home renovation work.
- Visit the Ohio Department of Health website https://www.odh.ohio.gov/odhprograms/eh/phs_environmental/leadlp/lead.aspx
- Visit the Environmental Protection Agency website http://www2.epa.gov/lead
- Visit the National Center for Healthy Housing website nchh.org
- Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/
- If you rent your home, you may wish to call Legal Aid (1-888-534-1432) or First Call for Help (211). These agencies can inform you on your rights as a renter to try and resolve housing conditions that may be contributing to lead in the home.
Take these steps to reduce your child’s exposure to lead in your home/environment:
- Keep your child away from renovation or maintenance work that disturbs paint, and make sure no paint chips or dust remain in the work area before your child enters. If you hire someone to conduct renovation, repairs, or painting in a home built before 1978, make sure that they are lead safety certified by Environmental Protection Agency.
- Look for and safely fix peeling paint: report it to your landlord if you’re a tenant so that repairs will get made (and call code enforcement or a legal aid society if there’s no response); and repair it safely if you’re a homeowner. To find out more about repairing peeling paint safely, visit
- Obtain professional help with screening your home for hazards and making repairs. A lead risk assessment will tell you if you have hard-to-find hazards such as lead dust, lead in bare soil, or lead in your water to prioritize any repairs you can have done. Note that lead dust is a common source of exposure for young children because of their crawling and hand-to-mouth behaviors. A lead-based paint inspection will tell you where the lead-based paint is in your home so you know the places (such as windows, doors, trim, porches, and other locations) to maintain and avoid disturbing. An abatement contractor knows how to eliminate hazards identified by either type of evaluation.
- Wash your child’s hands, toys, bottles, pacifiers, and any other items your child often puts in his or her mouth.
- Regularly clean floors, windowsills, and dusty places with wet mops or wet cloths to pick up any dust. Use two buckets – one for soap and one for rinsing.
- Use only cold tap water for making baby formula, drinking and cooking. Let the water run for a few minutes first.
- Avoid using certain products from other countries, such as health remedies, eye cosmetics (e.g. kohl, kajal, surma) candies, spices, snack foods, clay pots and dishes, painted toys, and children’s jewelry. These items may contain high levels of lead. For more examples click HERE.
- Remove shoes before entering your home.
- Any household member who does construction work or other work that may involve lead should remove work clothes before entering; wash them separately.