Lead Poisoning Prevention

Lead has been scientifically shown to negatively impact a child’s health and brain development. Adults and children of any age can become lead poisoned, but children and pregnant people experience a greater degree of harm due to developing bodies and brains. Continue reading this page for more information on lead poisoning as well as tips & tricks for preventing lead poisoning in your home.

What is Lead Poisoning?

Lead is a toxic heavy metal that is absorbed into the body when a person or child is exposed through ingestion or inhalation. Blood absorbs the lead and distributes it throughout the body and negatively impacts various organs and bodily systems. Some lead poisoning symptoms in children are developmental delays, learning difficulties, irritability, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, hearing loss, seizures, and more. Babies exposed to lead paint before birth might be born prematurely, have a lower birth weight and have slowed growth. 

The most common cause of lead poisoning is dust and paint chips from lead-based paint, but there are also non-paint sources that can cause lead poisoning. Some sources are imported candies and spices, traditional medicine, traditional eye cosmetics containing kohl, kajal, al-Kahal, surma and more, contaminated soil, drinking water, workplace and hobby exposure, lead-glazed ceramics or surfaces, pewter or leaded crystal, and consumer products like jewelry, toys, and plastic. 

Lead poisoning is only detectable by blood testing and Vermont Law requires that all children ages 1 & 2 have their blood lead level tested. We recommend continuing to test blood lead levels until age 6. 

Lead Poisoning Prevention Cleaning:

The friction that is caused by opening and closing windows and doors coated with lead paint creates invisible lead dust. Since lead is a heavy metal, it falls to the floor and clings to surfaces such as toys and window wells. Regular cleaning of certain areas in your home will help keep your family healthy and safe from lead dust. 

  • Immediate cleaning: Always pick up and throw away any visible paint chips. Wear gloves if available, and if not, wash your hands afterward. Wash dropped pacifiers and teething toys before giving them back to children. 
  • Daily cleaning: Wet-wiping of floors, toys, pacifiers, tables, and areas where food is often eaten or prepared. Remove shoes before entering your home. 
  • Weekly cleaning: Wet-wiping of window sills, window wells, tops of baseboards, any other trim detail or furniture where dust collects, HEPA vacuuming of rugs and carpeted areas. 

Wet-wiping and washing surfaces are important cleaning methods to use when living in a pre-1978 home. Using disposable one-use materials like paper towels, wet wipes, and disposable floor cleaning pads is necessary to make sure lead dust is not spread around.

  • Use disposable single-use wipes, like wet paper towels or pre-moistened cleaning wipes.
  • Use disposable single-use wipes and all-purpose cleaners to clean window wells, sills, doors trims, and other surfaces.
  • On hard floors, use a disposable wet-mop and change out used pads often. 
  • Avoid dry sweeping. This moves lead dust around rather than removing it. 
  • Throw away any used wipes in a plastic bag, close tightly, and discard them in the trash. 
  • Make sure to wash your hands after cleaning. 

HEPA Vacuums are essential to use when cleaning lead dust in your home. HEPA vacuums contain filters that are capable of removing very small particles from the air unlike regular vacuum filters. 

  • Vacuum very slowly to allow time to pull the most dust from the floor
  • Vacuum in one direction, changing directions for the second pass. Try not to overlap passes. 
  • Use vacuum attachment heads to clean corners, trim, in between floorboards, edges of carpet, etc. 
  • Do not change the vacuum cleaner bags inside. 

Lead Poisoning Prevention Nutrition: 

You can help fight lead exposure with a healthy diet. When there is nutritious food in the body, it may be more difficult for lead to be absorbed. Eat a variety of foods that are rich in nutrients like Calcium, Vitamin-C, and Iron. Lead in the body stops those minerals from working properly, which can affect growth and development. Try and give your child 4-6 small meals during the day, keeping stomachs less empty. The categories below list foods that are high in those important nutrients. Please be aware and careful of allergies when eating and trying new foods. 


  • Milk, yogurt, dairy products
  • Cheese, cottage cheese
  • Green leafy vegetables, kale, turnips, mustard, and collard greens
  • Salmon, sardines
  • Eggs
  • Beans


  • Brussel sprouts, broccoli, peas, squash
  • Tomatoes, bell peppers
  • Citrus fruits and juice, orange, grapefruits
  • Kiwi, strawberries, berries, mango, papaya, melon


  • Iron-fortified cereals and bread
  • Meat, red meat, seafood, eggs
  • Peanut butter, almonds, pecans, whole grains, oatmeal
  • Green leafy vegetables, spinach, and kale
  • Lentils, beans
  • Broccoli, peas
  • Raisins, dried peaches, and apricots

Lead Contaminated Soils:

If you own a pre-1978 home with exterior lead paint, you most likely have lead-contaminated soil. This is from exterior paint chips falling onto the ground, causing the heavy metal to leach into the soil.  Please read below for tips to protect your children from exposure to lead in soil:

  • Do not let your children play in bare soil. 
  • Keep children away from playing near the foundation or edge of the building. 
  • Plant grass, shrubs, trees, or bushes in bare areas of contaminated soil. 
  • Cover contaminated soil with mulch, pavers or gravel to create a protective barrier between the soil and children.
  • Leave shoes outside the home to avoid tracking contaminated soil inside. 
  • Wash your children's hands and face after playing outside, especially before eating or drinking. 
  • Plant sunflowers, they absorb lead and other heavy metals out of the soil. 
  • Use a sandbox and fill it with clean sand to encourage children to not play in the dirt.

Links for Additional Information:

General Information about Lead: 

Vermont Healthcare and Lead Poisoning Prevention: 

Minimizing Lead Poisoning Risks: