Lead: An Unseen Hazard in the Playground and Garden
Lead dust in a garden or play area can be very dangerous to small children. As they run or dig in the ground, children can inhale small particles of dust. Hands, toys and candies dropped on the soil are also a source of lead.
HAVE KIDS WASH THEIR HANDS OFTEN!
If lead is a problem in your soil, the following can help:
Information originally provided by the American Community Gardening Association.
- Build a covered sandbox where small children can dig. Small children often suck their fingers, so they should have a safe place to play, away from contaminated soil.
- Always wash children's hands before they eat.
- When eating outdoors, eat at a table. Wipe table or use a table cloth.
- Weeds that are mowed like a lawn will help keep down dust. So will mulch or rubber mats placed over scuff spots under swings or at the end of slides.
- Check the ground around your building for paint chips. Throw them away where children cannot get them.
- Feed children before sending them out to the garden or playground. Recent studies have shown that if lead is ingested on an empty stomach, up to 80% is absorbed by the body; on a full stomach, the body absorbs much less - about 10%.
- Help keep children generally healthy through a good balanced diet. One that is high in fiber, calcium and iron and low in fat will contribute to good general health and may help specifically by preventing the absorption of low levels of lead by the body. Some foods containing calcium are milk, whole or skim, cheese, buttermilk and yogurt. Foods that have high iron content are lean beef, lamb, liver, kale, spinach, swiss chard, watercress, and turnip and beet greens.
- If children will be actively gardening, consider planting in raised beds filled with clean soil and compost. Give kids their own work gloves to wear while gardening.
- Have children ages 1-6 tested yearly for lead. This can be done at a public clinic or through a private physician.