may not know if their children have lead poisoning. Lead may be in the
paint, dust, or soil in and around the home, or in drinking water or
food. Lead can damage the brain and other organs in young children. Even
children who look healthy may have high levels of lead in their blood. A
blood test is the only way to find out if a child has lead poisoning.
||A high level of lead poisoning
may cause convulsions, coma, and even death. At low lead levels, a child
may show no symptoms at all. However, long-term low level lead poisoning
may cause learning and behavior problems. Other symptoms include
stomachaches, vomiting, headaches, and hyperactivity.
||HOW DOES A
CHILD GET LEAD POISONING?
||A child gets lead poisoning by
accidentally swallowing small amounts of lead. Because children often
put their hands and other objects in to their mouths, they may take in
dangerous amounts of lead. Lead is most harmful to children between the
ages of six months and six years.
||Lead-based paint is the
most common source of lead poisoning. Children living in older housing
(pre-1978) are at greater risk. The older the house, the more likely it
is to contain lead-based paint. Tiny pieces of peeling or chipping lead
paint are dangerous if eaten. Dust from peeling paint or remodeling can
get on a child's hands, toys or other objects, and can be swallowed
Lead paint in good
condition is not usually a problem except in places where painted
surfaces rub against each other and create dust, such as where windows
open and close.
Other resources are:
- Soil. The dirt
around the house may have been contaminated with peeling, paint,
exhaust from leaded gasoline, or emissions from industries, such as
smelters and radiator repair shops.
- Water. Water can
pick up lead from lead pipes or lead soldered joints in plumbing.
- Ceramics and
pottery. Old, handmade, or imported ceramics and pottery may contain
lead. Some bean pots from Mexico are one example. Leaded crystal and
some fine china also contain lead.
- Folk remedies.
Bright orange or yellow powder folk remedies may be almost pure
lead. "Azarcon" and "Greta" are used by some
exposures. People who work with lead may bring lead dust home on
their clothes and bodies.
- Hobbies. Welding,
auto-repair, and the making of ceramics, stained glass, bullets, and
fishing sinkers are hobbies that use lead.
PARENTS DO TO PREVENT LEAD POISONING?
- Ask your doctor
about a blood lead test for your child.
- Do not remove lead
paint yourself. Sanding or scraping lead-based paint may contaminate
your home further.
- Wash children's
hands often. Wash toys and pacifiers often.
- Do not let
children eat dirt. Do not let them eat food that has fallen on the
ground and floor.
- Keep your home as
dust free and clean as possible. Wipe floors and windows sills with
a high phosphate soap, such as automatic dishwasher detergent or
- Do not use folk
remedies or imported, old or handmade pottery.
- Foods Can Help Protect Your Child From Lead
Poisoning. Feed your child foods rich in iron and calcium.
A child who gets enough iron and calcium will absorb less lead.
Foods rich in iron include beef, turkey, greens, spinach, dried
beans/peas/lentils, iron-fortified cereal, whole wheat bread, dried
apricots/peaches/pears, and molasses. Foods high in calcium include
milk, cheese and yogurt.
- The Arizona
Department of Health Services (ADHS) can tell you how to get paint,
soil, water and other sources tested for lead.
||For more information on
preventing lead poisoning, call ADHS at:
Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
150 N. 18th Avenue,
Phoenix, AZ 85007