Lead Information

What is lead?

Lead is a poisonous gray metal that was used for many years in many of the items found in and around our homes.

What is childhood lead poisoning?

Lead is a poison and seriously affects young children. When children have too much lead in their bodies, it can cause learning problems, brain damage, damage to the kidneys and nerves and even death.

Could your child be lead poisoned?

Yes - a child who is lead poisoned may not look or act sick at all. However, lead poisoned children may often show the following signs:

  • Easily excited
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Complains of stomach aches and headaches
  • More tired than usual

The only to know if a child is lead poisoned is to have them tested. Children should have their blood tested at least once a year until they are 6 years old. A test every year is very important because as children grow and become more active they are more likely to come in contact with lead sources.

What are some sources of lead?

Lead Paint: Exposure to lead paint that is peeling, chipping, or dusty, is the most common cause of lead poisoning in young children. Manufacturers added lead to paint because they found it was a good way to make the paint stronger, last longer and stick to the surface better. While lead paint is no longer used, many homes built before 1978 may still have lead paint. Over 60% of all Iowa homes were built before 1960!

Children can be lead poisoned by:

  • Putting dusty or dirty hands, toys, pacifiers, bottles in their mouths (Dust in older homes may contain lead from old paint)
  • Chewing or eating lead paint chips
  • Chewing on a surface painted with lead paint
  • Playing in dirt or sandbox near an old building or where one was torn down
  • Breathing in dust created from the remodeling of a home where lead paint had been used

For more information about lead poisoning in general visit:

Toys or Toy Jewelry Containing Lead- Young children often put objects in their mouths. When those objects contain lead, a child can suffer from lead poisoning. Some metal toy jewelry has been found to have unsafe levels of lead that can be dangerous to the health of children. Recently some toys have also been found to have lead in the paint used on them. The Consumer Product Safety Commission works to guide manufacturers to prevent the sale of toys discovered to have unsafe lead levels.

To find out more about lead in toys and toy recalls visit:

Imported Candy - Some candies imported from Mexico have been found to contain lead. Lead is not deliberately added to such candies. Instead lead from the machinery producing the candy, storage, and packaging can contaminate the product.

People selling these candies may not know if the candy contains lead or not. You cannot tell if the candy contains lead by looking at it or tasting it.

Home Remedies - Some people use home remedies to help treat sick people. Some home remedies may contain ingredients that have been contaminated with lead. Use of such remedies may cause lead poisoning.

To read more about lead risks and home remedies visit:

How can I protect my child from lead poisoning?

  • Test your child for lead poisoning.
  • Check your home and other homes where your child visits for lead hazards.
  • In you plan on remodeling or painting your older home consult a professional on how to do the work safely.
  • Wash your child’s hands before meals and snacks. Wash your child’s pacifiers and toys often.
  • Provide regular nutritious meals for your child. Simply stated children with empty stomachs absorb more lead than children with full stomachs. Also, eating foods with lots of iron and calcium can help reduce the amount of lead a child's body absorbs.
  • To learn more visit: Fight Lead Poisoning with a Healthy Diet Document

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