Prevent Lead Poisoning

Chaffee County Public Health is committed helping create healthy homes for children and families!

Lead poisoning is the #1 preventable environmental health threat to children in the United States. Colorado's history of mining, lead smelting and refining activities, as well as recreational opportunities all contribute to high lead exposure in the State.  However, the primary source of lead exposure, especially for young children, is in their home.

Lead is a highly toxic metal that can affect anyone.  Children exposed to lead are at the highest risk for detrimental health effects because of their hand-to-mouth activity and their developing brain and nervous system.  Lead poisoning can be very hard to detect, and often signs and symptoms don't appear until dangerous amounts have accumulated.  Lead exposure can cause developmental delays, learning disabilities, irritability, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting and hearing loss.  In extremely high levels, lead poisoning can cause severe brain damage and death.

Sources of lead exposure in Colorado:

  - Lead-based paint from housed built before 1978
  - Imported toys with lead based paint
  - Imported spices such as turmeric, coriander, black pepper, thyme and hanuman sindoor
  - Imported glazed pottery commonly used in cooking beans or hot chocolate
  - Home remedies such as Greta or Azacron used to treat  stomach illness or empacho
  - Lead contaminated soil or dust tracked into the house by humans or pets
  - Hobbies such as hunting or fishing that use leaded bullets or fish sinkers; some artist paint and furniture
  - Work in lead related industries such as construction, mining, welding and plumbing
  - Water from pipes in homes built before 198 may be contaminated with lead

How to reduce your child's risk:

  - Keep you home clean and dust free, especially floors, window sills and other surfaces.  Lead in dust
     is the most common way people are exposed to lead. Lead dust comes from deteriorating lead-base
     paint and lead-contaminated soil that gets tracked into your home by humans or pets
  - Wipe up any paint chips or visible dust with a wet sponge, rag or mop
  - Use a vacuum
  - Always remove shoes at the door
  - Wash children's hands often,especially before eating and bed
  - Wash children's bottles, toys and pacifiers often
  - Make sure children eat a healthy diet, especially rich in iron, (lean meats, dried fruits, iron fortified cereals)
     calcium (milk, cheese, green leafy vegetables) and vitamin C (citrus fruits, tomatoes, green peppers).
     Also make sure children are eating regularly throughout the day (4-6 small meals). Children with empty
     stomachs absorb more lead
  - When doing a home renovation make sure to hire contractors that are trained in lead-safe work practices

The only way to know if your child has been exposed to lead is to get their blood tested.

Colorado guidelines recommended blood testing for:

  - Children on Medicaid 12 and 24 months
  - Children on CHP+ at 12 and 24 months

Other high risk children include those who:

  - Live in or regularly visit a house built before 1950 - including a childcare center
  - Live in or regularly visit a house built before 1978 that is under remodel or in poor condition
  - Have a sibling or playmate with elevated blood level
  - Live with an adult whose job or hobby involves lead (mining, smelting, automobile repair, construction,
     plumbing, hunting with lead bullets or fishing)
  - Live near a smelter, battery recycling plat or other lead-releasing industry
  - Have been to Mexico, Central America or South America in the last year
  - Have been given home remedies such as Azarcon, Alacron, Greta, Ruebda, Pay-loo-Ah
  - Eat or drink from imported pottery or ceramic cookware
  - Eat foods containing spices imported from other countries, or imported candies
  - Has Pica or a habit of eating dirt or non-food items

Important resources for families:

Lead 101

Protect your family

Common sources of lead

Screening guidelines for parents and guardians

FAQ about lead in drinking water

Lead in wild game fact sheet

Lead paint disposal

Renovation, Repair, Painting

Evaluating and Eliminating Lead-Paint Hazards

Important resources for Healthcare Providers:

Lead screening guidelines for providers

CDC guidelines for case management

If you have questions about childhood lead poisoning, please contact Chaffee County Public Health at 719-539-4510 and ask to speak with a nurse.

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