Lead Poisoning

Adopted May 1993 – Reviewed and deemed relevant February 2015 – Revised August 2020 – Health & Community Concerns Commission

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood lead poisoning is 100% preventable. The key is to keep children from coming into contact with lead. Learn how to prevent children’s exposure to lead.  Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health, including damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems, and hearing and speech problems. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified.

California State PTA believes that early screening, identification, treatment, and prevention efforts are essential to protect all children from lead poisoning. Children between the ages of six months and six years should be screened using a blood lead test.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood lead poisoning is a major, preventable pediatric health problem today, and it is entirely preventable.

California State PTA recognizes:

  • Lead poisoning is a pervasive illness affecting all segments of society;
  • Children exposed to lead can have impaired intellectual development;
  • The highest risk age for lead poisoning is between one and six years;
  • Most children with lead poisoning do not look or act sick;
  • The effects of lead in the blood stream are subtle and are often mistaken for some other health or learning problems; and
  • Expectant mothers exposed to lead can miscarry or they may have babies with low birthweight and retarded growth and development.

The major sources of lead exposure in children are:

  • Peeling or chipping paint and deteriorating lead paint particles in household dust,
  • Lead contaminated soil,
  • Some home-remedy medicines,
  • Contact with skin or clothing of parents in lead-related occupations or hobbies,
  • Lead content in some imported food cans, cookware, and tableware, and
  • Tap water, usually from older plumbing with lead-containing connectors.

There are many ways parents can reduce children’s exposure to lead before they are harmed. Lead hazards in a child’s environment must be identified and controlled or removed safely. Lead is invisible to the naked eye and has no smell.

California State PTA urges parents and others responsible for the health and safety of children to:

  • Educate themselves about measures they can employ to prevent lead poisoning
    – See that children have a well-balanced diet which includes iron and calcium;
    – Wash children’s hands often; especially after contact with anything suspected of containing lead; and
    –  Keep areas around suspected lead contamination clean.
  • Encourage schools and school districts to comply with the recommendations identified in the California Department of Public Health report, “Lead Hazards in California Public Elementary Schools and Child Care Facilities,” including
    – Compliance with state and federal mandates;
    – Evaluation of the lead content of school drinking water at the outlet;
    – Fencing off or covering bare soils adjacent to painted exterior walls of buildings constructed prior to 1940;
    – Prioritization of deferred maintenance activities to classrooms that house the most vulnerable children;
    – Utilization of the expertise of Department of Public Health certified lead-related construction personnel; and
    – Adoption of and support for the voluntary Lead-safe Schools Protection Act.

† e.g., Azarcon, Greta, Pay-loo-ah, Alkohl or Kohl.

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