It's Lead Poisoning Prevention Week!Here is where you can learn and share important information about the many ways parents and caregivers can reduce a child's exposure to lead and prevent its serious health effects.
Lead can be found in all parts of our environment – the air, the soil, the water, and even inside our homes. Children are exposed to lead from different sources (such as paint, gasoline, solder, toys, ceramics and other consumer products) and through different pathways (such as air, food, water, dust, and soil). Although there are several exposure sources, lead-based paint is the most widespread and dangerous high-dose source of lead exposure for young children.
If your home was built before 1978 it may have been painted inside and outside with paint that has lead in it. The dirt outside of these homes may also have lead in it. Have your paint and dirt tested for lead. Here's a list of local stores that sell kits to test your home for lead.
Learn more from the EPA about sources of lead exposure:
Talk to your child's doctor to find out about testing your child for lead. Most children are tested at 1 and 2 years old. Some children over 2 also need to get tested.
Lead is particularly dangerous to children because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. Babies and young children can also be more highly exposed to lead because they often put their hands and other objects that can have lead from dust or soil on them into their mouths. Children may also be exposed to lead by eating and drinking food or water containing lead or from dishes or glasses that contain lead, inhaling lead dust from lead-based paint or lead-contaminated soil or from playing with toys with lead paint.
What are the Health Effects of Lead?
Lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. Children six years old and younger are most susceptible to the effects of lead.
Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:
In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death. Find out more from the EPA.
Lead can accumulate in our bodies over time, where it is stored in bones along with calcium. During pregnancy, lead is released from bones as maternal calcium and is used to help form the bones of the fetus. This is particularly true if a woman does not have enough dietary calcium. Lead can also cross the placental barrier exposing the fetus the lead. This can result in serious effects to the mother and her developing fetus, including:
Lead can also be transmitted through breast milk. Find out more from the EPA.
Lead is also harmful to other adults. Adults exposed to lead can suffer from:
How do I know if my child has lead poisoning?
A simple blood test is the ONLY way to know if your child has lead poisoning.
Because lead poisoning often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. Children with elevated blood lead levels can have serious health effects.
Talk to your pediatrician or primary care provider about getting your child tested. Children should be tested at 12 months and 24 months of age, and anytime up to 6 years of age if they have never been tested before.
The Public Health Department can test your child for lead poisoning, by appointment, at the locations listed below. First ask your doctor for an order and then call for an appointment.
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program Brochure (Spanish)
Lead Paint Safety
Learn About Lead Poisoning and How to Protect Your Children
Nutritional Information for Well Fed = Less Lead
Lead in House Paint and Dirt
Handbook for Contractors, Property Managers, and Maintenance Personnel
Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home
Reducing Lead Hazards When Remodeling
Simple Steps to Protect Your Child From Lead
Do Not Take Lead Home From Work
Candies and Treats With Toxic Lead Levels
Toxic Treats Printable Brochure (English/Spanish)
Los folletos en español llame a (805) 781-5500
Lead in the news
San Luis Obispo County Environmental Health Department
Child Health and Disability Prevention Program (CHDP)
Questions and Answers About Lead in Tableware (Prop 65)
US Environmental Protection Agency Lead Awareness Program
Occupational Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
Environmental Health Initiative (EHI)
US EPA Lead Info (Spanish)
The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch (CLPPB) defines a case of childhood lead poisoning (for purposes of initiating case management) as a child from birth up to 21 years of age with:
County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department
Childhood Lead Prevention Program
2191 Johnson Ave
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
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