Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is a Public Health Services program that seeks to eliminate childhood lead poisoning by caring for lead-poisoned children and identifying and eliminating sources of lead exposure. Services provided include nursing case management and environmental investigations for lead poisoned children as well as education to health care providers, communities groups, and families.  Our efforts are pursuant to California Health and Safety Code Sections 105275-105310 (Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act of 1991).

Learn About Lead Poisoning

CLPPP Inhaling/Ingesting Lead Dust

What is Lead Poisoning?

Lead poisoning is the accumulation of lead in the body. Lead usually enters the body in the form of lead dust that is breathed in or by eating something that has been contaminated with lead. Children under 6 years old absorb lead more easily and are more easily harmed by lead.

Lead poisoning can happen slowly over time as lead builds up in the body or can happen suddenly if someone is exposed to a lot of lead at once.  Most children who have lead poisoning do not look or act sick.  The only way to know if someone has lead poisoning is by getting a blood lead test.

There is no known “safe” level of lead to have in the body.  Any measurable amount of lead in the body may have negative health effects and can cause lifelong learning and behavior problems.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently uses a reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter (5mcg/dL) or higher to identify children who have an elevated blood lead level.

Lead poisoning can be treated but most of the damage caused by lead poisoning is permanent.  The good news is that lead poisoning is preventable.  

Common Sources of Lead Poisoning

  • Paint on houses built before 1979
  • Soil contaminated from leaded gasoline use and factory pollution
  • Imported toys with decals, imported crayons and painted metal toys. Consumer Product Safety Commissions recalled toys and other household products.  Click on "Child Products" or "Toys."
  • Tamarind, chili powder, and chili coated candies from other countries. 
  • Handmade or imported pottery and imported low cost dishes
  • Home remedies such as azarcon and greta. Also some ayurvedic medicine products such as spices, herbs, vitamins, proteins, minerals, and metals (e.g. mercury, lead, iron, zinc). 
  • Occupational exposures
    • Auto repair, shipbuilders, construction workers, steel welders, battery manufacturers.  List of common jobs that use lead (English) (Spanish)
  • Hobbies
    • Glazed pottery making, target shooting, stained glass making, home renovation, fishing

Easy Ways to Protect Your Family from Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning is completely preventable. The key is to prevent lead exposure before your family is poisoned. The following are ways to protect your children from lead poisoning.

  • Wash children's hands and toys frequently.
  • Paint - Cover old paint that is chipped, flaky or peeling with contact paper. Remove fallen paint chips immediately. Prevent children from chewing on or picking at windowsills and other painted areas.
  • Dust - Mop and wipe floors, windowsills and window frames weekly with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner.
  • Soil - Do not allow children to play in outdoor areas near a busy street, highway, factory or auto shop. Cover soil around your house with grass, plants, rocks or pavement. Click on one of the following links for more information about lead in paint, dust and soil.  (English)  (Spanish)
  • Toys - Use toys that can be easily washed. Avoid using baby bottles with decals.
  • Candy - Avoid giving children imported candies made with tamarind or chili powder.  
  • Pottery - Do not use handmade or imported pottery and highly decorated dishes for cooking and storing food unless you are certain they are lead free. Cast iron and stainless steel pots are safe to use. Special swabs to test for lead can be purchased at some hardware stores.  Look at this brochure for information about lead in traditional imported pottery (English/Spanish).
  • Home remedies - Only give children doctor-approved medicines. Home Remedies brochure  (English/Spanish) 
    Home Remedies by Country flyer (English)
  • Nutrition - 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.  (English)  (Spanish)
  • Don't take Lead Home with you! If you work with lead, wash your hands and change your clothes before coming into contact with your loved ones. Click on one of the following links for more information.  (English)  (Spanish)

Well Fed = Less Lead: The Role of Nutrition in Preventing Lead Poisoning

Feed children a healthy diet with foods rich in calcium, iron, and vitamin C (see table below for examples). These nutrients help prevent lead from being absorbed by the body and can also help remove lead from the body. For more information about preventing lead poisoning in your child through nutrition, take a look at these handouts: English | Spanish

Calcium Sources

Iron Sources

Vitamin C Sources

Milk

Cheese & yogurt

Leafy greens

Broccoli

Eggs

Dried beans

Iron-fortified cereals

Leafy greens

Broccoli

Lean red meats

Corn tortillas

Raisins

Orange juice

Bell peppers

Broccoli

Kiwi

Strawberries

Tomatoes

Home Remodeling Information

Older homes and buildings built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint. Disturbing lead-based paint during remodeling and repainting can create dangerous lead dust. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website for more information on renovating or painting your home.

Learn More About Lead-Safe Work Practices

  • Call the National Lead Hotline at (800) 424-LEAD and request "How to" guidelines on working safely with lead-based paint.
  • Get a list of the Department of Health Services Certified Lead Professionals who are trained to do lead-safe work in your home by visiting the State of California's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch website or by calling (800) 597-LEAD.
  • For more information on free Lead Safe Work Practices Training, call (858) 492-5015.
  • For information or questions on the EPA Renovation Repair and Paint (RRP) rule visit the EPA Region 9 website.

Resources

Local, State and National resources for childhood lead poisoning

Healthcare Provider Information

State Blood Lead Testing Regulations

Pursuant to California Code of Regulations Title 17, healthcare providers are responsible for performing the following actions during periodic health care assessments on children aged 6 months to 6 years:

Anticipatory Guidance


Provide oral or written guidance to a parent or guardian of the child starting at 6 months of age and continuing to 72 months of age, including, at a minimum, information that children can be harmed by exposure to lead, especially deteriorating or disturbed lead based paint and the dust from it, and are particularly at risk of lead poisoning from the time the child begins to crawl, until 72 months of age (6 years). 


Screen 

(Initial blood draw for child not previously identified with an elevated blood lead level) 

Children in publicly funded programs* at both 12 months and 24 months of age.

Children in publicly funded programs* age 24 months to 6 years who were not tested at 24 months or later.

*Examples include Medi-Cal, WIC, and Targeted Low Income Children’s Program (TLICP)(formerly known as Healthy Families) 

Assess 

(If child is not in publicly funded program)

Ask, “Does your child live in or spend time in a place built prior to 1978 that has peeling or chipped paint or that has been recently remodeled?”

If the answer is “yes” or “don’t know” order a blood lead test.


Other Indications to screen

  • Change in circumstance has placed child at risk of lead exposure
  • Parental request
  • Suspected lead exposure 


Medi-Cal and low-income children can get free medical checkups, including a blood lead test. For information call the Child Health and Disability Prevention Program (CHDP) at (800) 675-2229.

California Code of Regulations Title 17 Screening for Childhood Lead Poisoning

 

Lead Updates
Important updates about childhood lead poisoning prevention for healthcare professionals.

Lead Update 2016
Lead Update 2015

Lead Update 2014

For more information call (619) 692-8487 or send us an e-mail.