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Lead Poisoning Prevention

About

What is Lead?

Lead is a type of metal that used to be in household paints, water pipes, guns, pottery, and other everyday items.

While lead can’t be used in certain products in the United States anymore, there is still a risk that a person can be exposed to lead from his or her job, house, hobbies, or home country.

Lead is harmful to the body and can cause serious health problems. Children under the age of 6 are even more at risk for lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can damage the brain and nervous system which can create problems with learning, behavior, development, and growth in children.

Salt Lake County’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

This program helps doctors test children under the age of 6 for lead poisoning. If a child lives in Salt Lake County and has a blood test result of 5mg/dL or above, they can receive services from Salt Lake County’s Lead Home Visiting Program. This program offers visits for families to teach them about lead poisoning and to find and reduce possible sources of lead in their homes. Learn more about the Lead Home Visiting Program in the “Home Visiting Program” section above.

Leady Lucy

 

Salt Lake County Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
Text: 801-382-8877
Email: leadprevention@slco.org

Prevent

Risk Factors

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  • Children can be exposed to lead by swallowing lead, breathing in lead dust, or touching things that have lead in them and then putting their hands or fingers in their mouth. Children under the age of 6 are at higher risk for lead poisoning than adults because:
    • Their bodies can take in more lead than an adult’s body can.
    • Their bodies are still growing.
    • They may put toys or other things in their mouths that contain lead.
  • Children and families who come to the United States from other countries or have been recently adopted from outside of the United States may also be at higher risk.
  • Around the Home
    • Living in or updating a home built before 1978.
    • Living near a factory that uses lead (factories that make paint, bullets, or batteries).
    • Living near a lead mine.
  • Jobs and hobbies that involve lead
    • Caregivers who work with lead at their job or as a hobby can bring it home on their clothes, which can get on to their children’s clothes or in their play area. This may include hobbies or jobs such as:
      • Glazing pottery
      • Cosmetology
      • Auto repair
      • Mining
      • Battery manufacturing
      • Painting
      • Construction
      • Jobs that involve the use of guns
    • Check out the National Institute for Occupations Safety and Health’s resources for how to prevent lead poisoning as an employer or employee.
  • Lead in the soil
  • Drinking water that runs through old water pipes or water taps.
  • Food, Cosmetics, and Home Remedies/Medicines
    • The spices below have been used in food, cosmetics, and home remedies and may contain lead.
      • Chili powder
      • Tamarind
      • Ba-baw-san
      • Daw Tway
      • Greta
      • Azarcon
      • Ghasard
      • Sindoor
    • Try to use other ingredients instead when cooking or making home remedies. Before buying makeup products, read the ingredient list for any of the above spices.
    • For more information, please visit:

Prevention

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It can seem scary if you or your child has tested positive for lead. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your family's exposure to lead.

Following the cleaning tips below, removing products that have lead in them, and having a healthy diet are simple ways that you can lower your family’s exposure to lead.

Cleaning Your Home

  • Wash your hands often and help your child wash theirs
  • Clean toys and stuffed animals
  • Wash bottles and pacifiers
  • Remove shoes before entering your home
  • Remove any fallen paint chips with a wet cloth and all-purpose cleaner
  • Remove work clothes before returning home
  • Properly ventilate workspace for hobbies that use lead

Removing Products that Have Lead in Them

  • You can view the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recalled products list. These products contain lead and should be removed from your home.
  • If you are exposed to lead because of your job, remember to change into different clothes when you go home. For more information about job exposure to lead and how you can limit it, please visit the “Sources and Risks” tab above.

Healthy Diet

  • Foods that are high in Calcium, Iron, and Vitamin C may reduce the amount of lead that the body takes in.
    • Calcium-rich foods: Leafy green vegetables, dairy products, and Tofu.
      lead_nutrition1.png
    • Iron-rich foods: Leafy green vegetables, meat, and whole grain products such as pasta, bread, and cereals.
      lead_nutrition2.png
    • Vitamin C-rich foods: Citrus fruits, melons, strawberries, tomatoes, and peppers.
      lead_nutrition3.png
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of recipes and tips for lead poisoning prevention.

Test & Treat

Symptoms

Some symptoms of lead poisoning are:

  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • stomach pain
  • irritability

However, most children do not show any symptoms of lead poisoning until they have reached a high level of lead in their blood. Early detection and prevention of lead poisoning are very important. If you think that your child has been exposed to lead, talk to your child’s doctor about getting a blood test.

Treatment

The best way to treat lead poisoning is to remove the source of lead. If blood lead levels are very high, your doctor may recommend other types of treatment.

Testing for Lead in the Blood

When to get your child tested 

  • At a child’s 1 and 2 year old well checks.
  • If a child lives in or often visits a home or building that was built before 1978.
  • If the child has been exposed to repairs, repainting, or renovations of a home that was built before 1978.
  • If a child has recently come from other countries to live in the U.S.

There are two types of testing that may be used to test for lead poisoning:

  • The first is called a Point-of-Care (POC) test. This is a simple and quick blood test that takes blood from your finger. Sometimes a POC test may give results that are higher than the actual blood lead level, so POC tests that detect lead are followed up by a second blood test.
  • The second type of blood test is a venous blood draw. This test takes blood from the child’s arm. These tests usually take a few days to receive results.

What do blood lead levels mean?

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0-4 μg/dL

  • Your child has been exposed to little or no lead. No retesting is necessary right now. Retesting may be necessary if your child's risk of lead exposure changes.

5-9 μg/dL

  • Your child has been exposed to some amount of lead. Have your child retested within 1-3 months to confirm the blood lead level. The Salt Lake County Home Visiting Team may be able to help you identify and reduce sources of lead in your home.

10-44 μg/dL

  • Your child has been exposed to a moderate to large amount of lead. Have your child retested within 1 week to 1 month to confirm the test result. Discuss possible treatment options with your child's physician.

45+ μg/dL

  • Your child has been exposed to a dangerous amount of lead. Have your child retested within 48 hours to confirm the test results. Your child's doctor may recommend hospitalization or emergency treatment.

Home Visiting

Salt Lake County’s Lead Education Home Visiting program teaches families with children who have high blood lead levels about lead poisoning and helps them to lower their children’s exposure to lead.

The first step to participate in the Lead Home Visiting program is to have your child’s blood lead level tested by a doctor. This is done through a simple blood test.

If your child has a blood lead level of 5.0 ug/dL or higher, the health department will contact you to schedule a home visit. Participation in the program is optional and FREE.

Once you finish the Lead Education Home Visiting Program, you can get a gift card, incentives, and referrals to community programs that will help you stay safe from lead.

What to expect
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Intake Call: a member of the home visiting team will call you to introduce the program, ask some questions about you and your family, and schedule an appointment for your home visit. This phone call will take 5-10 minutes.

Home Visit: a member of the home visiting team will visit with you in your home or virtually.

  • During a home visit, you will talk about lead, where it can come from and how to keep your family safe in the future. The home visitor will work with you to find the source of lead poisoning for your child and help determine how you can remove or reduce the hazard.
  • You may also be referred to other programs that can help you such as the Lead Safe Housing Program. The visit will last about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Follow-Up Phone Call: About 3 months after your home visit, a member of the home visiting team will call you to check in.

  • During this phone call they will talk to you about any more tests that your child may need for lead poisoning, follow up on any community resource referrals, and review the goals that you set during your home visit. This phone call will take about 15-20 minutes.

Contact information for home visiting program:

  • Text: 801-382-8877
  • Email: leadprevention@slco.org

Resources