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Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

Lead Prevention 2014

» About Lead Poisoning

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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.

Los folletos en español llame a (805) 781-5500.

  • San Luis Obispo Clinic: 805-781-5500
  • Paso Robles Clinic: 805- 237-3050
  • Grover Beach Clinic: 805- 473-7050

About Lead Poisoning

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. Most hardware stores 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.

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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:

  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Lower IQ and Hyperactivity
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing Problems
  • Anemia

In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death. Find out more from the EPA.

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Pregnant Women

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:

  • Reduced growth of the fetus
  • Premature birth

Lead can also be transmitted through breast milk. Find out more from the EPA.

Other Adults

Lead is also harmful to other adults. Adults exposed to lead can suffer from:

  • Cardiovascular effects, increased blood pressure and incidence of hypertension
  • Decreased kidney function
  • Reproductive problems (in both men and women)

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Information & Resources

Find out more from the EPA.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. Great resource about lead prevention, safety and more from the EPA, or vsit the California Department of Public Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch.


For Clinicians

Case Definition
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:

  • One venous blood lead level (BLL) equal to or greater than 20 µg/dL, or
  • Two BLLs equal to or greater than 15 µg/dL.  Must be at least 30 and no more than 600 calendar days apart.  The first specimen is not required to be venous, but the second must be venous.

More information for Health Care Providers from CLPPB

Testing and Management of Blood Levels

Laws and Regulations

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Contact Us

County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department
Childhood Lead Prevention Program

2191 Johnson Ave
San Luis Obispo, CA  93401

(805) 781-5500

se habla español
or 1-800-660-3313

Contact us by email

Google Maps

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