The Environmental Health Division works jointly with the department's Public Health Nurses and other professionals as part of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) team. Click here to learn more about the CLPPP program.
Environmental Health performs important roles in addressing lead poisoning issues by:
- Conducting environmental investigation at the homes of children who have been identified with lead poisoning.
- Analyzing sources of lead poisoning such as paint, dust, and soil.
- Educating residents, contractors, government agencies, and the public about lead hazards and how lead hazards can be reduced or eliminated.
- Working with homeowners and landlords to ensure that lead hazards are removed from homes where lead poisoned children reside.
What is Lead Poisoning?
Lead poisoning is caused by the presence of lead in the body. There is no known safe level of lead to have in the body but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified five micrograms per deciliter (5mcg/dl) as the level of concern. Once lead is present in a child's body, it can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems , damage to the central nervous system, and at very high levels seizures, coma, and even death. Adult lead poisoning can also cause other health and reproductive problems. Children's growing bodies absorb more lead than adults. (Lead Health Effects)
There is no cure for lead poisoning but medical treatment can lower the level of lead in the blood. The best way to address childhood lead poisoning is to prevent children from being exposed to lead hazards.
Common Sources of Lead Poisoning and Ways to Protect Your Family from Lead
Identify, control, or eliminate lead exposures.
- Paint - Cover old paint that is chipping, flaking or peeling. Remove fallen paint chips immediately and prevent children from chewing on or picking at paint on windowsills and other painted areas.
- Dust - Lead-based paint may create lead dust that settles on surfaces throughout the home. Babies and young children often put their hands in their mouth. These objects can have lead dust on them. Regularly mop and wipe floors, windowsills, and window frames with warm water and a general cleanser.
- Soil- Soil can pick up lead from exterior paint or other sources, such as past use of leaded gas in cars. Lead-based paint may fall into soil around the foundations of homes. Do not let children eat soil or play in bare soil in these areas. Cover bare soil with grass, plants, bark, rocks or concrete.
- Water - Tap water that has corrosion of older fixtures, solder that connects pipes or plumbing fixtures may have lead in it. The only way to verify if the water has lead is to have it tested by an approved laboratory.
Other Sources of Lead
- Toys - Use toys that can be easily washed and wash them regularly.
- Pottery - Handmade or imported pottery and tableware may contain leaded paint or glaze. Do not use these products for serving or storing food or beverages. Spanish
- Candy - Imported candy may contain lead. Avoid giving children imported candies.
- Spices - Spices such as tamarind and turmeric have been found to contain lead. Avoid giving children these spices.
- Home remedies - Traditional remedies, also known as folk remedies, including Surma, Azarcon, Greta, Peluam, Hauxeeb and Sindoor may contain very high levels of lead. Give your child only medicines that are doctor approved. (Spanish)
- Jewelry and accessories - High levels of lead have been found in inexpensive children’s jewelry and adult costume jewelry. Do not let young children wear or play with jewelry. (Spanish)
- Don't take lead home with you - Jobs such as auto repair, construction, metal work, and battery manufacturing or working at a shooting range may expose children to lead that is brought home on work clothes and shoes. Anyone in the home that works in jobs where lead may be present should change their clothes and shoes before entering the home. (Spanish)
Wash your hands and your children's hands often, especially before they eat and before nap time and bed time.
If you're concerned that your child might be at risk for lead poisoning, talk to your medical provider for advice on testing your children. Your medical provider may recommend a blood test for lead poisoning to make or rule out a diagnosis of lead poisoning. They can also explain what the test results mean and if more testing will be needed.
Well Fed=Less Lead
Nutrition (in English) Give children a healthy diet with foods rich in iron, calcium and vitamin C. A healthy diet helps prevent lead absorption into the body. Click on one of the following links for more information about preventing lead poisoning in your child through nutrition. (Nutrition in Spanish)
A grant is available to fix lead hazards in homes.
- There is financial assistance available to fix lead hazards in your home. See Pre Application brochure for more information. English or Pre Application in Spanish
Learn More About Lead Recalls
- For more information about lead content in products or to learn more about a specific recalled product, please visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
- For more information about lead in food items, including lead in candy, spices, supplements, and cosmetics please visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.
- For information about lead regulations and recalls in the state of California, please visit the California Department of Toxic Substances Control website.
Lead-Safe Work Practices