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Children from lower-income families also had higher lead levels than those from wealthier families.
Dr. Bruce Lanphear, a lead specialist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center who wasn't involved in the government study, said lead levels have probably continued to decline since 2004. But the findings show "we need to still continue to be aggressive" with prevention efforts, he said.
Lead-based paint in old housing, which can contaminate house dust and soil, is the main source. Children also can be exposed to lead in water, mostly from old plumbing pipes, as well as toys and certain folk medicines.
The CDC recommends that pregnant women and young children avoid housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation. Other recommendations include regularly washing children's hands and toys; frequent washing of floors and window sills, where paint dust can collect; and avoiding hot tap water for drinking, cooking and making baby formula. Hot tap water generally contains higher lead levels from plumbing than cold water.
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