Yes, it is true. Kids can get exposed to lead dust from the family car.
You may know that lead contaminated dust can be brought home by workers in lead related occupations. For workers in such occupations, the general recommendation has always been to remove clothing and shoes before coming inside the home.
I’ve always said that the same should be applied to the family car – just switch your clothes and shoes before getting in. But I never really had any support for that – just commen sense.
Now I do. The first reported cases of lead poisoning from car seats and family cars are in Maine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report today that 6 children in Maine suffered lead poisoning from dust in the family car. That’s right, the family car.
The children were determined to have lead poisoning based upon blood lead levels (BLLs) above 15 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dL). The current action level is 10 ug/dL, though research establishes that significant IQ deficits occur at BLLs of 2.5 ud/dL, and virtually all scientists and researchers will tell you that there’s no safe level of lead.
In any event, upon investigating, it was determined that this 6 children were exposed to contaminated lead dust in the family car and car seats. In these cases, the lead dust was due to a father or mom’s boyfriend bringing the lead dust into the car from his occupation – metal scrap recycling and paint removal. If you remove old paint; tear down or remodel houses, building, tanks or bridges; work at a shooting range; solder pipes; make or fix radiators or batteries; or melt, cast, or grind lead, brass or bronze, you may be exposed to lead.
The CDC’s recommendations to reduce transfer of lead contaminated dust to the family car are to place lead contaminated clothes into a closed container for laundering before getting into car, to take a shower and wash hands before getting into the car, to change clothes and to wash lead contaminated clothes separately from all other clothes. More ways to avoid brining lead dust home with you are available here.