Information for Families and Caregivers

A toddler plays in the dirt in his backyard. Construction toys are in the foreground.

The Louisiana Healthy Homes and Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is a program of the Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Public Health, Bureau of Family Health. Our program’s goals are to:

  • eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Louisiana
  • make sure that healthcare providers test children under the age of six for lead in their blood 
  • reduce or eliminate lead in the home by testing homes and properties for lead hazards
  • coordinate care for children affected by lead poisoning

It's important to know the signs of lead poisoning in young children, and what to do when you see them.

 

What do parents and caregivers need to know about lead?

    • Lead is a heavy metal commonly found in the environment that can be toxic to people and animals. Lead is particularly dangerous to children – their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the harmful effects of lead. Lead and lead dust can be found in paint, soil, water and even air.
    • Babies and young children are more likely than adults to get lead poisoning because they often put their hands and other objects – which can have lead from dust or soil on them – into their mouths. Even small amounts of lead dust can be harmful to their developing bodies. Lead exposure is also a concern for pregnant women, as coming into contact with lead while pregnant may expose the baby to lead as well.
    • Lead-based paint is the #1 source of lead poisoning in children under the age of 6.
    • There is no “safe” level of lead in the blood and many children come into contact with lead in their homes. Most homes built before 1978 have, at some point, contained lead-based paint.
    • Too much lead exposure can cause damage to the brain, body, and other vital organs. It can also cause learning disabilities, behavioral or lower IQ.
    • Check out our Louisiana Lead Prevention Video on YouTube if you'd like more information:

 

What do I need to know about blood tests for my child and next steps?

  • By law, doctors, nurses or other healthcare providers must make sure that every child between 6 months and 6 years of age have a blood test for lead (source: LAC 48: V7005, 7007, 7009). Ask your doctor about testing your child for lead.
  • If a blood test shows that your child is at risk for lead poisoning, our program will contact you. We will work with you and your family to get you the services and resources you need to keep your child healthy and safe. You do not need to apply for services; we will contact you if you qualify.

 

What can I do at home to protect my family from lead exposure?

  • Be aware of lead-safe practices:
    • Ask your doctor to test your young children for lead even if they seem healthy. 
    • Have children wash their hands after playtime outdoors or in soil.
    • Parents should remove thier work clothing and shoes before entering their home if they work around materials that contain lead.
    • Keep the area where your children play as dust-free and clean as possible.
    • Make sure your children do not chew on painted surfaces, such as toys or window sills.
    • Report chipped or cracked paint to your landlord if you live in an older home built before 1978.
    • Learn about and be careful of toys that contain lead. You can keep up with the latest recalls on toys and other children's products using the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
  • Home repairs and renovations often stir up lead dust and chips, which can be harmful. When possible, use only EPA-certified contractors to make repairs or renovations in your home. They know how to make repairs without leaving lead hazards behind in your home. Find an EPA-certified contractor.
  • Check out this helpful infographic from HUD about Protecting Kids from Lead Poisoning. 

 

Where can I find more information about lead poisoning and resources for my family?