Lead poisoning is a preventable condition caused by breathing in lead dust or eating something that has been contaminated with lead.
How do I know if my child has Lead Poisoning?
A blood test is the only way to know if your child is lead poisoned. Most children with lead poisoning do not look or act sick.
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:
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).
(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)
(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
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.
Lead can enter the body through a variety of sources, including breathing in lead in dust form, eating, chewing or sucking on paint chips and dirt that contain lead. Young children are especially at risk to get lead poisoning because they often put their hands and other objects in their mouths.
Common sources of lead poisoning come from:
- 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. See list and pictures of recalled candies through November 2013.
- 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). FDA warning on Ayurvedic Productions
- Occupational exposures
- Auto repair, shipbuilders, construction workers, steel welders, battery manufacturers. List of common jobs that use lead.
- Glazed pottery making, target shooting, stained glass making, home renovation, fishing
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. California Food and Drug Branch listing of recalled candies
- 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. Information and brochure about traditional imported pottery (English/Spanish).
- Home remedies - Only give children doctor-approved medicines. Home Remedies brochure (English/Spanish)
- 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)
|Calcium Sources||Iron Sources||Vitamin C Sources|
Cheese & yogurt
|Iron-fortified cereals |
Lean red meats
|Orange juice |
Older homes and apartment buildings built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint. Disturbing lead-based paint during remodeling and repainting can create dangerous lead dust. Visit the EPA website for more information on renovating or painting your home.
Before You Work
- Always lay down heavy plastic sheeting for both inside and
- Use heavy plastic sheeting to cover the floor, furniture, play structures, and any outside surfaces, such as grass or concrete.
- Remove toys, drapes, curtains, moveable furniture, and rugs out of the work area.
While You Work
- Avoid tracking lead contaminated dust away from the work
- Do not leave the work area in your work clothes and shoes.
- Do not sit on furniture, play with children, or pick up toys while in your work clothes and work shoes.
- Use a spray bottle to mist all surfaces with water before and during sanding and scraping.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke in the work area.
After You Work
- Clean-up daily
- Use a spray bottle to mist waste and then carefully fold plastic sheeting inward before throwing it away in a tightly sealed bag.
- Use water and an all-purpose cleaner to mop-up remaining waste.
- Remove work clothes before you leave the work area. Store and wash work clothes separately from your family's regular laundry.
- Shower and wash your hair before you come in contact with your family and non-work areas.
Learn More About Lead
- 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 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 or call (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 web site.
For more information phone 619-692-8487 or send us an e-mail.
Important updates about childhood lead poisoning prevention for healthcare professionals.