Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program 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, community groups, and families.
Lead exposure is the most common and preventable environmental threat to children 1 – 6 years old in the U.S.
Our goals are to:
- Prevent Humboldt County kids from being exposed to lead
- Support testing to identify those who are exposed
- Make sure that exposed children are connected with services.
Although lead has been banned from many products, it is still all around us. Without special handling it can be hazardous. Children are most at risk because they are growing rapidly. We provide information about the sources of lead in the community—mainly paint on housing built before 1978, but also dust, soil, or job-related sources, and occasionally drinking water or consumer products.
Our education and prevention programs get the word out about sources of lead how to get children tested for lead exposure and what resources are available to make sure lead is either removed or handled safely.
Many of Humboldt County’s beautiful older homes were treated with lead-based paint.
What everyone needs to know about lead:
- Most older homes in Humboldt County contain lead. Before painting or fixing up an older home, read the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission’s guide Protecting Your Family from Lead in Your Home (PDF)
- Most children who have been exposed to lead don’t show immediate symptoms, that’s why testing is so important.
- Lead is most harmful to unborn babies and children under the age of 6. Childhood lead exposure makes it more difficult for kids to grow, think, concentrate and behave normally. Low-levels of lead exposure can cause reading and learning disabilities, hearing loss and hyperactivity. At higher levels, lead exposure can cause intellectual disabilities, coma, convulsions and even death.
- At least half-a-million U.S. children have lead levels that are too high.
Lead poisoning is 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 frequently,
especially before eating and sleeping.
Cover old paint that is chipped, flaky or peeling with contact paper. Remove fallen paint chips immediately and do not let children eat them. Prevent children from chewing on or picking at painted surfaces.
Keep furniture away from damaged paint. Do not place cribs, playpens, beds, or high chairs next to areas where paint is chipping or peeling or can be chewed.
Test painted surfaces for lead in any area that you plan to remodel, before you begin the work. If lead is in the paint, learn how to handle the paint safely. Never sand, burn, or scrape paint, unless you know that it does not contain lead.
If you see unsafe lead work practices, submit a tip or complaint to Humboldt County Environmental Health Citizen Portal or call (707) 445-6215.
Mop and wipe floors, windowsills and window frames weekly with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner.
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.>
- Wash children’s toys frequently
Use toys that can be easily washed. Avoid using baby bottles with decals.
Avoid giving children imported candies made with tamarind or chili powder.
Do not use handmade or imported pottery and highly decorated dishes for cooking and storing food unless you are certain they are lead free. Look at this brochure for information about lead in traditional imported pottery (English/Spanish).
- Home remedies
Only give children doctor-approved medicines. Folk remedies, English/Spanish (PDF)
- 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. Hobbies that use lead include soldering or making stained glass, bullets, or fishing sinkers.
Don't take Lead Home with you!(PDF)
¡No lleve el plomo a su casa! (PDF)
Well Fed = Less Lead.
Give 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.
|Vitamin C Sources
Children who are exposed to lead often don’t show immediate symptoms, that’s why testing is so important.
- Ask your child’s doctor about a lead test if your child is between 6 months to 6 years old.
- Children in publicly supported programs (Medi-Cal, WIC, CHDP) should be tested at 1 and 2 years old. Catch up testing should be done between 2-6 years old if testing was missed.
- Children not in publicly supported programs should be assessed for lead risk at age 1 and 2 years. They should be tested if they spend time in a place built before 1978 that has peeling or chipped paint or that has been recently remodeled.
- Health insurance plans will pay for blood lead testing.
Did You Know?
- Symptoms are not obvious.
Most children who have lead poisoning do not look or act sick. The only way to know if your child has lead poisoning is to have a blood test for lead.
- Lead can hurt your child.
Children can get sick if they eat lead paint or breathe lead in dust. Lead poisoning can make it hard for your child to learn, pay attention, and behave. Lead poisoning can also slow growth and impair hearing.
- When to get your child tested.
If your child is 1 or 2 years old, you should get them tested for lead poisoning. Also, have your child tested if they are between the ages of 1 and 6 years and have not been tested for lead before.
- A blood lead test is the only way to know if your child has lead poisoning.
When a child with lead exposure is identified through testing, they are connected to services that may include:
- A home visit from a Public Health Nurse who is trained to identify possible reasons why a child may be exposed to lead and to offer solutions
- An environmental investigation by a Registered Environmental Health Specialist who identifies lead hazards in the child’s home and makes recommendations for removing or reducing those hazards.
Additional Community Resources:
- Food Assistance
To learn about food assistance programs in Humboldt County and see if you qualify, visit CalFresh and WIC.
- Northcoast Children's Services
Northcoast Children’s Services programs work in partnership with parents to promote healthy child development with goals for school readiness in the areas of language and literacy development, cognitive development, large and small motor development, social emotional development, and health and safety knowledge.
In addition to educational services, Head Start and Early Head Start programs partner with families to help them reach their goals for family needs, wellness, safety, life skills, and parenting.
SafeCare is a parenting program for adults with children ages 0 to 5. Parents learn how their parenting decisions and actions affect their child's growth and development.