South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Parents cautioned on childhood lead poisoning


November 20, 2007

In light of recent recalls of imported lead-tainted toys, the Allegheny County Health Department is cautioning parents that such toys pose a relatively low risk of lead poisoning and a much greater threat may be lurking in lead-based paint right in their own homes.

“We've investigated thousands of childhood lead poisonings since the mid-1980's. While toys and other products containing lead can be a potential source of lead poisoning, nearly all of the cases we investigated were linked to homes with disturbed or deteriorated lead-based paint,” said County Health Director Dr. Bruce W. Dixon.

The key to preventing lead poisoning is to stop children from coming into contact with lead and the place to start is the home. All housing built before 1978, when lead was banned in household paints, likely contains some lead-based paint.

Health officials urge parents to determine the construction year of their house and any other dwellings where their children spend a lot of time, including daycare centers as well as the homes of grandparents and babysitters.

In housing built before 1978, remove children from areas with chipping or peeling paint and frequently wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces to keep children from coming into contact with household dust that might contain lead.

Children and pregnant women should not be present when housing built before 1978 is undergoing renovations. They should not participate in or even be around any activities that disturb old paint or clean up paint debris.

Information about childhood lead poisoning, including lead-safe ways to renovate older homes, is available from the Allegheny County Health Department by calling 412-687-ACHD or visiting its web site at

Lead is a highly toxic metal that is harmful to young children because it can hinder their growth and development and cause irreversible brain damage.

Most children with elevated lead levels have no symptoms. The only way to tell whether a child has lead poisoning is with a blood test. If you live in a home built before 1978, contact your health care provider and request a test for your child.


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