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Regular House Cleaning Can Protect Toddlers from Lead Poisoning

Household dust may be a major source of exposure for children with elevated blood lead levels. This randomized trial was designed to test the hypothesis that regular vigorous household cleaning could reduce exposure to lead and blood lead levels.

All mothers in the study were educated on the importance of adequate housecleaning and biweekly assistance with household cleaning. Two trained lay workers did the cleaning, focusing on wet mopping floors, damp-sponging walls and horizontal surfaces, and vacuuming with a high-efficiency particle-accumulating vacuum. Household dust lead levels, blood lead levels of the children, and maternal knowledge of lead poisoning were measured before and after the study.

Results after a year of follow-up: "Blood lead fell 17% in the intervention group and did not change among controls. Household dust and dust lead measures also fell significantly in the intervention group. Children in homes cleaned 20 or more times throughout the year had an average blood lead reduction of 34%."

Conclusion: The utility of regular home cleaning, accompanied by maternal education, is "a safe and partially effective intervention that should be recommended for the large majority of lead-exposed children for whom, unfortunately, removal to lead-safe housing is not an option."


Rhoads GC, Ettinger AS, Weisel CP, et al. The effect of dust lead control on blood lead in toddlers: A randomized trial. Pediatrics, Mar. 1999; vol. 103, no. 3, pp551-55.


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