Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

Lead exposure is the most common and preventable environmental threat to young children 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 get access to services.

Education and Prevention

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 in the community, how to get children tested for lead exposure and what resources are available to make sure that 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.


Children who are exposed to lead often don’t have symptoms, that’s why testing is so important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend testing of children at 1 and 2 years of age. By this age they are into everything, and everything goes into their mouths—if there’s lead in their environment, they are likely exposed to it. 

Doctors can order lead tests. Most of the time it’s just a quick finger poke, and a drop of blood gets sent off to the Public Health lab. Families without health care providers can seek referrals through the Childhood Health and Disability Prevention (CHDP) Program.

Community Services

When a child with lead exposure is identified through testing, they are referred for 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
  • In some cases, the Redwood Community Action Agency can do the lead hazard reduction work on the child’s residence for a reduced rate.