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Preventing Childhood Lead Poisoning

  • Keep your home as clean and free from lead dust as possible.
    The best way to clean up lead dust is to regularly wet mop your floors, wipe window ledges, and wash all surfaces with water and household detergent.

  • Take off your shoes before entering the house.
    Make sure the shoes are wiped wet on a doormat outside the house. This will help prevent lead dust and soil from getting into the house.
  • Change out of work clothes.
    Have a shower before coming home if you work with lead at your job. Lead dust brought home on the clothes of workers can spread in the house and poison children. Lead is used in many work places, such as radiator repair shops and battery manufacturing plants.
  • Never sand or burn or scrape paint unless you know that it does not contain lead.
  • Test painted surfaces for lead in any area you plan to remodel before you begin the work. If lead is in the paint, learn how to handle the paint safely. If the work is not done the right way, lead dust can scatter and poison your family, pets, neighbors, and workers. (See "Lead in Paint" to learn how to get paint tested.)
  • Encourage healthy eating habits.
    If your child eats regular and healthy meals, it may be harder for lead to hurt your child. Children are especially at risk for lead poisoning, because their bodies are growing and developing. Their bodies are efficient in absorbing the necessary nutrients for growth and development. Since lead cannot be differentiated from calcium, if there is not enough calcium in the body the lead is effectively absorbed into the system. Meals should include fruits and vegetables as well as calcium-rich foods (milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu and bean curd) and iron-rich foods (meat, chicken, iron-fortified cereals, raisins and dried fruits).
  • Wash children's hands often, especially before eating.
  • Do not use older, imported, or handmade dishes for serving, preparing, or storing food or drink unless you know that they do not contain lead. (For more information on testing for lead in dishes, call your local health department.)
  • Avoid hobbies that use lead.
    Hobbies that use lead include soldering or making stained glass, and sportsmen who make their bullets, or fishing weights.
  • Keep furniture away from damaged paint.
    Do not place cribs, playpens, beds, or high chairs next to areas where paint is chipping or peeling or can be chewed.
  • Do not use home remedies or cosmetics that contain lead.
    Some home remedies that are popular in certain ethnic communities often contain high levels of lead.
A Note About Public Housing

If the lead levels in the paint in your home are 5,000 ppm or more and you live in Housing and Urban Development (HUD) owned housing, HUD must make your home safe from lead paint.

Testing Your Children

Children aged 9 months through 5 years are at the greatest risk for lead poisoning. Most children with lead poisoning do not look or act sick. Ask your doctor to perform a blood lead test on your children. This is the only way to know if they are being lead poisoned. Your doctor should explain the results of the test to you. Most children will have a test result below 10 pg/dl. If you or your doctor need more information about lead poisoning call, the local health department.

If you have Medi-Cal, your regular doctor or clinic can order the blood tests to check for lead poisoning, if appropriate. Many private health insurance policies will also cover the cost of this test. Whether or not your family has insurance, your children may qualify for free health examinations through your local Child Health and Disability Prevention (CHDP) program. To find out if your child is eligible for CHDP testing, call your county health department.

For more information about lead in paint, call your county health department.

Questions:   Fred Yeager| | 916-322-2470
Last Reviewed: Monday, October 12, 2015

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