A child’s environment is full of lead. Children are exposed to lead from different sources, such as ambient, paint, gasoline, and solder and through different pathways, such as air, food, water, dust and soil, which can be contaminated by lead in the air or in food containers and water from corrosion of plumbing. Although all U.S. children are exposed to some lead from food, air, dust and soil, some children are exposed to high dose sources of lead. Lead-based paint is the most widespread and dangerous high-dose source of lead exposure for preschool children.
Pica, the repeated ingestion of nonfood substances, has been implicated in cases of lead poisoning; however, a child does not have to eat paint chips to become poisoned. More commonly, children ingest dust and soil contaminated with lead from paint which flaked or chalked as it aged or which has been disturbed during home maintenance and renovation. This lead contaminated house dust, ingested via normal repetitive hand to mouth activity, is now recognized as a major contributor to the total body burden of lead in children.
Because of the critical role of dust as an exposure pathway, children living in sub-standard housing and homes undergoing renovation are particularly at risk for lead poisoning.
Many cases of childhood lead poisoning that result from renovation or remodelling of homes have been reported.