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Lead Poisoning Prevention

Lead dust and lead paint in older homes (built before 1978) can poison children. When old paint peels and cracks, it makes invisible lead dust. Lead dust can also come from opening and closing old windows, and repair work or renovation on older homes. Young children often put fingers and toys into their mouths after they have touched lead dust. Swallowing this dust is the primary way that children become lead poisoned.

Lead poisoning is especially dangerous for young children (under age 6). It can cause permanent damage to the brain, kidneys, and nervous system.  Even low levels of lead can slow a child’s development and cause learning and behavior problems.

What Families Can Do

Here are some ways that you can help reduce your child’s exposure to lead:

  • Wash hands before eating, after play, and before sleep.
  • Keep fingernails clean and short.
  • Leave shoes at the door.
  • Wash floors, window sills, and window wells.
  • Serve healthy meals and healthy snacks.
  • Keep mouthing toys clean.
  • Have your home tested for lead.
  • Make sure your child has a blood test for lead each year until at least 3 years old. 
Updated on August 27, 2021


Cambridge Public Health Department
119 Windsor Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
617-665-3800 (main)
617-665-3888 (fax)
617-643-0744 (TTY)

Hours: Monday-Friday:
8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
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Derrick Neal
Chief Public Health Officer



Cambirdge Health Alliance

Cambridge City
City of Cambridge