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EPA has advice for curbing kids’ exposure to hazardous heavy metals


Photo: ajijchan/iStockphoto

Don’t simply get the lead out. Keep it out. And move on from mercury, too.

A recently published resource from the Environmental Protection Agency is aimed at lowering children’s exposure to hazardous heavy metals in community settings. It provides educational materials on limiting contact with the substances and the long-term health effects they may present.

The EPA says that cultural products such as cosmetics, religious powders, spices, traditional medicine and cookware may consist of heavy metals. These include lead, mercury, antimony, arsenic and cadmium. Kids and pregnant women may be especially vulnerable to adverse health risks from exposure to heavy metals.

“The presence of heavy metals in these products may come as a surprise to some since these products have been used during their own childhoods and into adulthood without any obvious health impacts,” the agency says. EPA notes, however, that some effects may be subtle or not immediately apparent, using as an example the learning difficulties and hyperactivity often associated with lead exposure.


The resource compiles educational and outreach materials from federal, state, and local government agencies and partners. Users can search by metal and product, with information available in 30 languages.

“One of the EPA’s top priorities is protecting public health, especially the health of our children who are most vulnerable to health impacts from exposure to heavy metals such as lead,” Clifford Villa, deputy assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, said in a press release. “The first step in preventing these exposures is knowing about them. This new resource guide increases access to vital environmental health information that can help protect children from harmful exposures in so many communities across the country.”

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