How safe are your children when they are playing outside in your yard? Maybe not safe enough.

Consider this: You probably take great safety precautions like making your kids wear bike helmets and sunscreen. But have you checked your soil and pool water for lead dust?

Most people have no idea that lead dust – that is dust that usually comes from old paint that is disturbed by renovation work (sanding and scraping; opening and closing windows); the dust flies through the air and lands in the yard. Since spending time outdoors should be a healthy activity, it pays to find out if the soil is “clean” – free from lead. Soil with high lead levels can be a danger, though – especially to kids. Children can actually be poisoned from lead dust, which could lead to autism, ADD, violent behavior, reduced IQ and a host of other issues. Lead dust can also be tracked inside on people’s shoes.

It can also travel from your neighbors’ renovations to your property if they are not following proper Lead Safe work practices. Lead dust has also been found in high concentrations in pool water.

If you are not sure about the soil your child is playing in, have your soil and water tested for lead and other toxins by a professional. Here are some other tips to minimize risk:

– Children and adults should wash their hands before and after playing or working outside;

– Change clothing after playing or working in the yard or garden;

– Create a safe play area for your child – a sandbox with clean sand and a cover is ideal if you think you may have lead dust around your home or neighborhood;

– Wash any toys that were used in dirt that may contain lead dust with soap and water;

– Any bare soil outside your home should be covered with sod, mulch, or gravel to reduce the hazard;

– Cover your pool when it is not in use;

– If lead levels are found to be high in your yard, tainted soil may actually need to be removed and clean soil may need to be brought in;

– A floor mat inside the door can help reduce lead dust from being tracked in;

– Take your shoes off when you enter your house and leave them at the door.

Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy the outdoors. Be sure to do it safely!