PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
You can take some simple measures to help protect you and your family from lead poisoning. These may include:
- Wash hands. To help reduce hand-to-mouth transfer of contaminated dust or soil, wash your children's hands after outdoor play, before eating and at bedtime.
- Clean dusty surfaces. Clean your floors with a wet mop and wipe furniture, windowsills and other dusty surfaces with a damp cloth.
- Run cold water. If you have older plumbing containing lead pipes or fittings, run your cold water for at least a minute before using. Don't use hot tap water to make baby formula or for cooking.
If you're doing minor remodeling or touch-up work in an older house with lead-based paint, take precautions:
- Don't attempt to remove the lead paint by sanding. Sanding surfaces painted with lead is hazardous because it generates large amounts of small particles.
- Don't use an open-flame torch to remove paint. The flame produces lead particles small enough to inhale.
- Cover old paint. Removing old lead paint may not always be possible. If the paint is on tight, without many chips, you can paint over it. You can also use paneling, drywall or encapsulation, which is similar to a very thick coat of paint.
- Wear protective equipment and clothing. Change your clothes, take a shower and wash your hair before leaving the job. Don't shake out work clothes or wash them with other clothes.
- Be careful where you eat. Don't eat or drink in an area where lead dust may be present.
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