Lead is bad. I think it's safe to say everyone is comfortable with that fact. Although it's bad and we all know it, it's still all over the world. And even if as a society we are using it in fewer products than ever, it still has ways of getting into things we eat, drink, and breathe. This is because the lead that we used in paint 45 years ago is still there. And, the lead that was added to gasoline has spread throughout the country and settled into the dirt. All of these tiny amounts of lead still can add up to some bigger consequences for both kids and adults, like cardiovascular disease, miscarriages, delayed growth in children, impaired kidney function, anemia, cataracts, and nervous system problems like reduced brain function, just to name a few. (1)
So, with lead still out and about in the places we spend our time, it's good to know a few handy tips for limiting how often we come into contact with it and accidentally let it into our homes and bodies.
1) Doormat and Shoes Off
Use a doormat and take your shoes off as you walk in the door. This is the easiest tip on the list, and one that makes a pretty big difference. Not completely convinced, read this article for more information about why taking your shoes off at the door makes such a big difference.
2) Mop Your Floors
Wet mop your floors more often. Wet mopping is good for removing lead dust because it actually picks up the dust and traps it, instead of just spreading it to different places like dusting or vacuuming can do. The lead that we come into contact with today is often in the form of dust, so finding effective ways to remove dust is one of the best ways to limit how much lead we come into contact with. (2)
3) Dust with Wet Cloth
Wipe tables, windowsills, and all other flat surfaces with a wet microfiber cloth. (3) Similar to mopping, wet microfiber cloths are like dust magnets. They are great at collecting even tiny specks of dust, and then you can toss them into the washing machine before you use them again. Also, bonus, you can get a big pack of them on Amazon for less than $12. Dust away to your heart's content.
4) Use Cold Water for Cooking and Drinking
Only use cold water from your tap when you are cooking, drinking, and making baby formula. (3) Hot water is more likely to have higher levels of lead from the pipes in your home and is better at pulling the lead from the pipes. Also, consider getting your water tested and buying a water filter that can filter out lead (Pur, Brita, and ZeroWater all have filters that can remove lead).
5) Wash Hands Before Eating and After Playing Outside
Wash your hands, and your kids hands, before you eat and after you do anything outside in the dirt. (2) There are many places throughout the country where lead has collected in the soil. So, if you, or more likely your kids, are playing in the dirt, make sure to wash hands as soon as you are done. (3) Also, try to find sand boxes or other play areas for your kiddos that aren't just bare soil. This will help reduce the risk of there being lead in the dirt.
6) Wash Toys
Throw your kids teddy bear or other soft toys through a cycle in the washing machine. (2) Just like other soft surfaces, teddy bears and soft toys collect dust, and some kids like to put them in their mouth. Washing them every once in a while will help limit the amount of dust they hold on to, and is probably just good for the toys anyway. While you're at it, it might be a good idea to wipe down some of the other toys too. Can't hurt.