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Chiropractic Research Review

Protect Toddlers from Lead Poisoning by Regular House Cleaning

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.

Fifty-six urban children (aged 6 to 36 months) were intervention subjects, with a similar group of 57 as a control. Intervention involved educating the mothers 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 intervention.

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."

Note: See the April 1999 issue of the CRR for definitions of the terms randomized and control.

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;103(3), pp551-55.

Chiropractic Research Review

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