Lead Poisoning Information
What is lead?
Lead is a metal commonly found in the environment. In the past, lead was used in many household items and commonly used in products such as: paint, plumbing, and gasoline. Even though some products have been banned for use, there may still be lead traces in the soil from gasoline, in the water from lead plumbing, or in your home from paint propducts.
Who can get lead poisoning?
While anyone is at risk of lead poisoning, the most vulnerable are children under the age of 6 years old and pregnant women.
What health problems are associated?
Lead poisoning has been shown to cause early birth, stunted growth, learning delays, and behavioral problems. Very high levels of lead can even cause death.
Click here to check out the CDC's full Lead Infographic, portions of which are below:
How are children exposed to lead?
Children can be exposed to lead by breathing in, eating, or drinking lead dust particles. This can come from:
- Eating paint chips from houses built prior to 1978 (before lead-based paint was banned from use on homes).
- Breathing in dust from nearby construction or home renovations.
- Drinking water in homes with lead pipes or service lines.
- Coming into contact with work clothes from adults who work in environments with high lead exposure, such as construction workers, painters, and mechanics.
- Playing with toys that have high lead content or have collected lead dust from the house.
- Eating lead-contaminated soil from playground areas.
What is an acceptable amount of lead?
A child’s blood lead level can be measured with a blood test. No amount of lead in the blood is considered safe, but the CDC declared that a level above 5 µg/dL shows that the child has been exposed to lead and requires case management. All children should be tested for lead exposure at 12 months and 24 months. See below for our list of places to get your children tested.
Print out the EPA's Lead Poisoning Home Check List to help you determine if your family is at risk of lead poisoning.
Tips for minimizing lead exposure
- Get your water tested by calling 504-52-WATER (92837). Install a faucet water filter to remove lead. Filters not labeled as being designed to remove lead will not work. Look for the NSF mark to make sure that the filter you are buying is certified by NSF International. Click here for more information.
- Test your home for lead-based paint and if necessary, have a certified lead expert remove the paint per EPA guidelines. Visit EPA.gov/lead to find a certified expert in your area.
- Keep children and pregnant women away from areas with peeling paint and renovation work being done.
- Dispose of toys and other items recalled for lead content (see CPSC.gov).
- Keep children from playing in soil. Opt for sandboxes or grassy areas away from the sides of the house where chipped paint may fall.
- Wash your children's hands and faces regularly, especially before eating.
- Shower and change clothes before entering the home for those with jobs in construction, painting, or other fields that involve high lead exposure.
- Wash toys and stuffed animals regularly.
- Wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window sills and baseboards weekly.
Places to get tested
Children should be screened for lead exposure at 12 months and 24 months of age. To ensure your child has been screened:
- Contact your local pediatrician or primary-care physician. Visit 504healthnet.org if you don't have one.
- Your local WIC clinic may conduct lead testing. For locations visit new.nola.gov/health/programs/wic .
- Contact the New Orleans Children's Health Project. Spanish speaking services are provided. Visit NOCHP.org.
Click here for a printable brochure on Lead Poisoning with resources to help keep your family safe.
For any questions please call 311 or contact the Health Department by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information and resources
National Lead Hotline:
1 (800) 424-LEAD (5323)