Lead Exposure in Children
Young children are most at risk from lead. Lead exposure can affect a child's mental and physical development. If you suspect that your child has been exposed to a toy containing lead, remove the toy immediately and contact your doctor for advice.
Last updated: 29 September 2007
What is the disease
Lead is a naturally occurring heavy metal, often used in industry. It can be dispersed widely in the environment through contamination of water, dust, soil, and some paints.
Lead can affect anybody, but children under five years of age are at greater risk because they tend to put their hands or other objects into their mouths; they absorb more ingested lead than adults; and their brains are still at developing stage so they are more sensitive to the effects of lead.
What are the main sources of lead exposure in children?
Also very old toys and cots with the original paint may contain unsafe levels of lead.
Exposure prone activities
How does lead affect children's health?
Lead can enter human body by inhalation or ingestion. It can affect almost every organ and system in the body. The symptoms of lead exposure depend on how long and what amount is ingested or inhaled by children. As lead poisoning often occurs without obvious symptoms, it can go unrecognised.
Lead exposure in childhood can cause behaviour and attention problems, learning difficulties and cognitive losses. It may also affect physical growth, blood cell development and the functioning of the kidneys.
Lead ingested by pregnant women can pass through the placenta and affect babies.
Lead poisoning is preventable
The following suggestions can reduce your child's lead exposure.
Behaviour to reduce potential lead exposure
Healthy and varied diet
What to do if you are concerned about lead exposure?
If you suspect that your child has been exposed to lead, contact your doctor or your local Public Health Unit.
For more information
|Further information - Public Health Units in NSW|
|For more information please contact your doctor, local public health unit or community health centre - look under NSW Government at the front of the White Pages|
|Metropolitan Areas||Location||Number||Rural Areas||Location||Number|
|Northern Sydney||Hornsby||02 9477 9400||Greater Southern||Goulburn||02 4824 1837|
|Central Coast||Gosford||02 4349 4845||Albury||02 6080 8900|
|South Eastern Sydney||Randwick||02 9382 8333||Greater Western||Broken Hill||08 8080 1499|
|Illawarra Shoalhaven||Wollongong||02 4221 6700||Dubbo||02 6841 5569|
|Sydney South West||Camperdown||02 9515 9420||Bathurst||02 6339 5601|
|Sydney West||Penrith||02 4734 2022||Hunter/New England||Newcastle||02 4924 6477|
|Parramatta||02 9840 3603||Tamworth||02 6764 8000|
|Justice Health Service||Matraville||02 9311 2707||North Coast||Port Macquarie||02 6588 2750|
|Lismore||02 6620 7585|