Ten Tips to Protect Children from Pesticide and Lead Poisonings  

Children are sensitive to health risks in their environment. To help protect your child, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued "Ten Tips to Protect Children from Pesticide and Lead Poisonings." These tips will help you keep your child safe at home.


Infants and children may be especially sensitive to health risks posed by pesticides for several reasons:

  • their internal organs are still developing and maturing,
  • in relation to their body weight, infants and children eat and drink more than adults, possibly increasing their exposure to pesticides in food and water.
  • certain behaviors--such as playing on floors or lawns or putting objects in their mouths--increase a child's exposure to pesticides used in homes and yards.

Pesticides may harm a developing child by blocking the absorption of important food nutrients necessary for normal healthy growth. Another way pesticides may cause harm is if a child's excretory system is not fully developed, the body may not fully remove pesticides. Also, there are "critical periods" in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual's biological system operates.

These simple steps can help you save children from environmental hazards around the home:

1.  Photo of adult putting bottle of pesticide in high cupboard.

Always store pesticides and other household chemicals, including chlorine bleach, out of children's reach – preferably in a locked cabinet.

2.  Photo of man looking at label of pesticide product.

Read the Label FIRST! Pesticide products, household cleaning products, and pet products can be dangerous or ineffective if too much or too little is used.

3.  Photo of sign: No Dogs Allowed. Chemical treated Lawn.

Before applying pesticides or other household chemicals, remove children and their toys, as well as pets, from the area. Keep children and pets away until the pesticide has dried or as long as is recommended on the label.

4.  Photo of bottle of bleach being recapped.

If your use of a pesticide or other household chemical is interrupted (perhaps by a phone call), properly close the container and remove it from children's reach. Always use household products in child-resistant packaging.

5.  Photo of child reaching for bottle of pesticide. A circle with a slash through it is over the boys hand meaning no.

Never transfer pesticides to other containers that children may associate with food or drink (like soda bottles), and never place rodent or insect baits where small children can get to them.

6.  Photo of adult putting insect repellent on a child.

When applying insect repellents to children, read all directions first; do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin; do not apply to eyes, mouth, hands, or directly on the face; and use just enough to cover exposed skin or clothing, but do not use under clothing.

7.  Photo of window with peeling paint.

Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. If you plan to remodel or renovate, get your home tested. Don't try to remove lead paint yourself.

8.  Photo of two women talking.

Ask about lead when buying or renting a home. Sellers and landlords must disclose known lead hazards in houses or apartments built before 1978.

9.  Photo of child getting checkup.

Get your child tested for lead. There are no visible symptoms of lead poisoning, and children may suffer behavior or learning problems as a result of exposure to lead hazards.

10.  Photo of adult helping child wash hands.

Wash children's hands, toys, and bottles often. Regularly clean floors, window sills, and other surfaces to reduce possible exposure to lead and pesticide residues.

For more information about pesticides, call the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at 1-800-858-7378. To order publications, call the National Service Center for Environmental Publications at 1-800-490-9198 or fax at 301-604-3408. Please be sure to note the document title when ordering through NSCEP.

For more information about lead, and testing your child or home call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD, or visit http://www.epa.gov/lead.

See also:

Ten Tips to Protect Children from Pesticide and Lead Poisonings. EPA. 2001. English.

Last Reviewed: November 2008

Last Updated: December 2, 2014