How to Reduce Toxicants in Your Home to Prevent Childhood Exposure to Lead and PFOA/PFOS

How to Reduce Toxicants in Your Home to Prevent Childhood Exposure to Lead and PFOA/PFOS

June is Healthy Homes Month, a time to recognize the importance of creating and maintaining healthy homes for families everywhere. We’ve partnered with the Children's Environmental Health Network (CEHN) to raise awareness about childhood Lead and PFOS/PFOA exposure, including how children become exposed to these toxicants in their homes and how it affects them. 

Children’s Environmental Health Network is a national non-profitable organization and a leading voice for children’s environmental health, offering a perspective that is uniquely rooted in pediatric and environmental health science.

We all want the best for our kids, and providing a healthy home is key to overall good health and sets kids up for success in the short and long term. 

Risks and Prevention of Lead Exposure

Lead is a powerful neurotoxic heavy metal that can have devastating lifelong effects on a child, including behavior and learning problems, and lowered IQ. Adult lead exposure can cause reproductive issues, kidney problems, cardiovascular disease, and nerve disorders. While lead is dangerous to both adults and children, the people most at risk are those who are pregnant or breastfeeding and children under the age of six, since they are in a rapid state of development or nurturing a young child who is in a vulnerable state of development. 

The CDC says children are most at risk for developing health effects from exposure to lead in their homes. But how does it happen? And what can you do to avoid it?

“There is no identified threshold or safe level of lead in blood.”

- AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS, Policy Statement Council on Environmental Health

How Are Children Exposed to Lead?

  • Drinking unfiltered tap water, especially if it comes from a private well or travels through older pipes 

  • Lead paint (usually found in older housing) 

  • Lead-glazed pottery or glassware 

  • Certain consumer goods like cosmetics, toys & jewelry

  • Lead can also be found in the dust around the house and on clothing brought into the house from outside environments

How Does Lead Exposure Affect Children?

  • Damages to the Central Nervous System (CNS) 

  • Slowed growth and development 

  • Learning and behavioral problems

Why is Lead Harmful?

  • Lead is a neurotoxicant and can accumulate in the brain, blood and bones

  • Lead can enter the CNS of a developing blood-brain barrier and cause irreversible damage

How Do We Prevent Lead Exposure?

  • Test your water for lead and use a water filter certified for lead removal. ZeroWater 5-Stage Filters and the ExtremeLife Faucet Mount Filter have been third-party tested for lead reduction and particulate reduction (Class I) capabilities against both NSF/ANSI Standards 42 and 53)

  • Run your water for at least 2 minutes before drinking or cooking with it 

  • Regularly clean your aerator grid on your faucet

  • Take your shoes off while indoors to prevent tracking in lead-contaminated soil 

  • Make sure everyone washes their hands when they enter the home 

  • Check out the Lead-Safe Toolkit for Home-Based Child Care developed by CEHN 

Your home is a safe space, so keeping it that way is important. Be sure to take a moment to check for any signs of dangerous lead exposure in your home. 

Risks and Prevention of PFOA/PFOS EXPOSURE 

PFOS/PFOA are a growing concern, as they have increasingly polluted our environment's public and private drinking water. Both PFOS and PFOA are artificial compounds that belong to a group of chemicals called polyfluoroalkyl substances or the abbreviated name PFAS.

What is the Difference Between PFOS and PFOA? 

PFOS is an indestructible compound that repels water, grease, and dirt - often used to coat pans or rain gear. In contrast, PFOA is effective at repelling oil and water. It's a substance used in Teflon or the non-stick coating of pans, fast-food wrappers, and takeout containers.

Since these chemicals are not biodegradable, they end up in our water supply, and studies have shown that exposure to them can be harmful to humans and animals.

How does exposure to PFOA and PFOS affect health? 

According to the CDC, exposure to PFOS/PFOA includes the following health risks:

  • Developmental effects on fetuses during pregnancy or on breastfed infants (low birth weight, accelerated puberty, skeletal variations)

  • Testicular or kidney cancer 

  • Liver damage

  • Immune effects (antibody production and immunity)

  • Thyroid and cholesterol changes

How Do We Prevent Exposure to PFOS/PFOA?

  • Ditch the non-stick cookware— (even if it says PFOA-Free)

  • Bring your own container for to-go food when you dine out 

  • Pop your own popcorn since most microwave popcorn bags leach into your savory snack 

  • Avoid stain-resistant coatings like Scotchguard sprays 

  • Use a water filter WQA Certified to remove contaminants like PFOS/PFOA

  • Support Clean Water Action to expand monitoring of drinking water for PFAS and get legislature on initiatives to reduce the use of PFAS in products and industries. Visit and download the fact sheet 10 things you can do about toxic PFAS chemicals.

ZeroWater’s Premium 5-Stage Water Filtration System and the ExtremeLife™ Faucet Mount filtration system are both NSF/ANSI certified to reduce lead, in addition to being WQA certified to reduce PFOS/PFOA. Get peace of mind knowing your family’s water source is taken care of - and tastes the best! 

Learn more about protecting children's (and adults’) health from environmental hazards in the home or home-based child care by checking out the Eco-Healthy Child Care® factsheets, the newly updated Protecting Children’s Environmental Health E-Course, or the Lead-Safe Toolkit for Home-Based Child Care.

Enter to win a Healthy Homes Prize Package throughout the month of June by joining the Children’s Environmental Health Network’s 30th Anniversary Fundraiser. Fundraisers who complete three activities that help make their homes healthier can enter to win one Short-Term Radon Test Kit from the American Lung Association and their choice of one ZeroWater 5-stage filtration water dispenser/pitcher or ExtremeLife™ Faucet Mount filter (both NSF/ANSI certified to reduce lead), plus 5% off coupon to ZeroWater store. Learn more and enter at


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