How can I reduce my child's exposure to lead?

Drinking Water

Lead can be found in drinking water. Make it a habit to:

  • Use cold water for drinking and cooking and let it run for 30 seconds to flush your pipes of lead.
  • Contact IDEM's Drinking Water Branch at 800-451-6027 and ask for extension 308-3308 to learn more about lead in your drinking water.


Lead can be found in homes built before 1978, especially prior to 1950, so assume the paint contains lead. Make it a habit to:

  • Wash all areas around doors and windows monthly with detergent and water. Lead dust near these areas is especially harmful because it enters the child's body and passes through the bloodstream at a much faster rate than ingesting the paint chips.
  • Remove flaking, peeling paint in your home because it might have lead. Contact your county health department for tips on how to remove the paint.
  • Avoid sanding lead-based paint. If you need to prep peeling areas, scrape them (while using a mist of water to avoid creating more dust) and remember to use a drop cloth to catch paint chips.
  • Clean your carpets every year. Wet cleaning is especially recommended, but make sure the carpets are completely dry to avoid a possible mold problem.
  • Change your clothes and shoes before coming inside your home if you work around lead or have a hobby that involves lead.


Lead can be found in the soil from both peeling paint chips that fall from a house and past use of leaded gasoline. Exhaust from leaded gasoline settled onto roadways in urban areas and rainwater caused the lead to runoff and settle into the ground. Make it a habit to:

  • Remove surface soil if it's contaminated with paint chips.
  • Wipe shoes on a doormat or remove them before entering the house to help keep lead out of the house.
  • Encourage children to play in mulched or grassy areas instead of dirt that is near peeling paint areas such as walls, fences and sheds.
  • Wash children's hands or encourage children to wash their hands, especially before eating. Many health problems can be avoided by taking this simple step.

Show All Answers

1. How can I reduce my child's exposure to lead?
2. How can lead affect me and my family's health?
3. Is there a medical test to determine whether I have been exposed to lead?
4. What is lead?
5. Where can I get more information?