What is Lead?

  • Lead is a metal that can be found in old paint and contaminated dust.
  • Lead can cause damage to the kidneys, the nervous system, and the brain.
  • Lead is especially damaging to the development of children, both before birth and when they are young.
  • It is very difficult to know if your child is exposed to lead. The only way to know if your child has been poisoned is if your doctor does a blood test. Your child should have the test when he or she is 1 and 2 years old.

Lead poisoning in children is caused by:

  • Children eating contaminated paint chips, and sucking or chewing on window frames, furniture, or toys that contain lead.
  • Children crawling on floors with dust that contains lead.
  • Children eating candies and snacks from Mexico that contain lead.

Where is Lead found?

  • Lead can be found in your house if it was:
    • Built before 1978 when lead was used in paint. Even a little chip of old paint can poison your child.
  • Lead can also be found in foods:
    • Lead can be found in foods that come from Mexico like: candies and “Chapulines”
      a Mexican snack of grasshoppers
    • Lead can also be found in clay pots from Mexico. Serving food in these pots
      can put lead in the food.
    • Lead can be found in homemade treatments like greta or azarcón.
    • Avoid cooking, eating, or storing food in pots, jars, jugs, or pitchers made of clay. If you are unsure if they contain lead you can buy a tester from the hardware store.
    • Avoid candies and snacks that may contain lead, such Vero Mango, Chaca- Chaca, Pelon Pelon Rico, and Pica Limon.

What can I do to protect my family?

  • Keep your house clean:
    • Use a mop, sponge or towel with warm water to clean your home (especially floors and windowsills.
    • Wash your child’s toys.
    • Wash your child’s hands often.
    • Take your shoes off before coming inside your house.
  • If the paint on your house is peeling or you are thinking of remodeling:
    • Call a state certified lead inspector. For a list of inspectors call 1(888)424-5323.
    • Also, you can follow the directions from the EPA brochure: “Reducing the risk of lead poisoning.”
      • To get a brochure call the National Lead Information Center at 1(800)424-5323.
  • Diet can help protect you against harm from Lead Exposure:
    • Good nutrition, especially eating enough iron and calcium, is important to protect against the damaging effects of lead.
    • Foods rich in iron include:
      • Red meat
      • Dairy products and green leafy vegetables
      • Iron enriched cereals and grains
      • Dried Fruits

For more information:

  • National Lead information center 1(800)424-LEAD
  • California Poison Action Line 1(800)222-1222 – anytime, any place in California
  • Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Programs (CLPPP): (510)620-5600
  • CLPPP in Monterey County: (831)755-4704
  • Environmental Protection Agency website about Lead: www.epa.gov/lead
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