Frequently Asked Questions

What is lead?
Who is at risk for lead poisoning?
How can lead affect my child?
What are the most common sources of lead poisoning?
What are the major sources of recreational/hobby exposure to lead?
What are the major sources of work-related lead exposures?
How can I protect my child?
What is a blood test for lead?

What is lead?
Lead is a metal found naturally in the earth's crust. Lead has been used in our society in a variety of ways including paint, gasoline, and ceramic glazes, and some vinyl products, such as mini-blinds.

Who is at risk for lead poisoning?
Any child may be at risk for lead poisoning. Lead Poisoning can occur regardless of financial, socio-economical or cultural status. Young children are at greatest risk due to their frequent hand-to-mouth behavior and rapid development. Adults may be exposed to lead through their jobs, recreational activities, or hobbies.

How can lead affect my child?
Most often there are no obvious symptoms of lead poisoning. If symptoms do occur, they are often mistaken for the flu or other illnesses. The only way to know if you child has lead poisoning is to have his/her blood tested. Lead exposure may cause learning and behavioral problems, lower IQ levels, and interfere with growth and hearing.

What are the most common sources of lead poisoning?
Common sources include: lead dust, lead in soil, and peeling, chipping, or cracking lead based paint.

What are the major sources of recreational/hobby exposure to lead?
Sources include: stained glass making, home remodeling, glazed pottery making, firearm use and ammunition reloading, burning candles with lead wicks, and fishing sinker molding. If working with lead is unavoidable, carefully read and follow all labels and instructions, and take extra precautions to prevent ingesting or inhaling lead dust and fumes. Wash hands often and keep work areas clean and dust free. Wet mop floors and wipe down tables after working with materials containing lead. Do not allow children near work areas.

What are the major sources of work-related lead exposures?
Sources include: Lead smelting and refining, battery manufacturing, rubber product manufacturing, pipe filler, plumbers, steel welders or cutters, and plastic manufacturing. More than one million workers in over 100 different jobs are exposed to lead each day. When working with lead it is important to protect oneself. First, follow all company safety procedures. They are there to protect the health of the company's employees and families. Second, always wash your hands and face before eating. Be sure to eat in designated areas only. Third, wear all required protective equipment and clothing. Keep street clothes and shoes separate and away from the lead source. Lead dust carried home from work can expose your family to lead. Shower before leaving work to rid yourself of lead dust. Leave all work clothes at work.

How can I protect my child?
Keep your child away from areas of chipping and flaking paint. Wash your child's hands, toys and pacifiers frequently. Provide your child with a diet rich in calcium, iron and protein, and low in fats and oils. Because dirt may contain lead, have your children play in grassy areas and take off their shoes before entering the house. If you work with lead in your job or hobby, change your clothes and shower before entering your home.

What is a blood test for lead?
A blood test is used to determine if there are high levels of lead in the body. Children less than six years old should be tested for lead. Remember, the only way to know if your child has lead poisoning is to have their blood tested. The state requires all children in high risk areas of the state to be tested annually for lead. Children in non-high risk areas of the state shall be assessed by the patient lead questionnaire and blood lead tested accordingly.

To have you child tested, contact your doctor or county health department.