Kids at risk for lead poisoning from their parents’ jobs

Kids at risk for lead poisoning from their parents’ jobs

A new phenomenon called “take home” lead exposure suggests adult occupations that pose a risk of lead exposure could also lead to poisoning in children, according to a new study.

In a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a report focused on siblings 1 to 2 years old with a father who worked in a recycling company that exposed him to lead revealed the children had elevated blood lead levels.

Three months after the father left his job at the recycling plant, they found a that the blood lead levels significantly decreased.

According to, lead poisoning affects children in the following ways:

  • Decreases bone and muscle growth
  • Causes poor muscle coordination
  • Damages the nervous system, kidneys, and/or hearing
  • Effects speech and language problems
  • Causes developmental delay
  • Induces seizures and unconsciousness (in cases of extremely high lead levels)

Some doctors say this should serve as an alert when treating children who may have been exposed.

“Physicians who treat young children should be aware of the parents’ occupations to provide education on how to decrease the risk of take-home exposure,” says Dr. Debra Susie-Lattner, internist and at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill.

Take-home exposure to lead and other hazardous chemicals is a widespread problem, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Preventing this problem is critical because methods used to decontaminate homes may not be effective in the long run.

NIOSH has the following advice for parents:

  • Change clothes and shoes before going home and leaving soiled clothing at work for laundering.
  • Store street clothes in separate areas of the workplace to prevent contamination.
  • Shower before leaving work.
  • Prohibiting removal of toxic substances or contaminated items from the workplace.

If a person believes he or she works in an environment where lead exposure is occurring, or if a person feels her or his children have been exposed, talk to a physician or family pediatrician immediately.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.