What is Lead Poisoning?
Lead poisoning is the number one environmental health threat to children ages six and younger in the U.S. Lead is a toxic metal that has been used in paint and other products found in and around our homes. Research shows that lead exposure among young children can result in lowered intelligence, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, and antisocial behavior.
There is no safe level of lead in blood, and adverse health effects can occur at lower concentrations. Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are the most common and widespread hazardous sources of lead exposure for young children.
A blood lead test is the only way to know if your child has lead poisoning.
Why is this program important?
The Louisiana Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (LCLPPP) is a program of the Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Public Health, Section of Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology. Our program’s goals are to:
- Eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Louisiana
- Ensure that all 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
Healthcare and social service providers, caregivers and families, and contractors and property owners all play a role in keeping Louisiana's children safe from lead poisoning. Browse the options below to find out what you need to know about lead, and what steps you can take to prevent lead poisoning. Together, we can prevent childhood lead exposure!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do people with lead poisoning have symptoms?
Children with lead poisoning often have no symptoms. The only way to tell is to have your child tested. A child can be poisoned and show no outward signs. When there are symptoms, they can include diarrhea, stomach cramps, lethargy, vomiting, or seizures in some severe cases.
What are common sources of lead?
Lead-based paint (pre-1978): most children get lead poisoned from ingesting deteriorating lead paint in homes built before 1978. Lead-based paint may have been used both inside and outside of a home. Children may eat paint chips or chew on the surfaces of cribs, highchairs, walls, doors, windows, floors, stairs, woodwork, or railings.
Lead-contaminated soil: lead has made its way into the soil around some homes through two routes: paint and environmental emissions. Lead may be in the soil where children play, especially close to factories, highways or major cross streets. Children like to play outside, and many love to play in the dirt. When kids play in the dirt, they inevitably get their hands and toys dirty. If hands or toys with lead-contaminated soil on them make their way into a child's mouth, then the child can be exposed.
Lead-contaminated dust from paint or soil: dust from paint and soil accumulates in and around homes, it also settles on toys, fingers, and other things children put in their mouths. Other industrial activities may also result in localized exposures to lead, including burning solid water in incinerators and sandblasting or demolishing bridges and other lead – painted metal structures.
Drinking water: lead is typically not found in the drinking water at the reservoirs. Lead normally enters the drinking water from service lines, solder in copper piping, fountains and coolers, and brass faucet fixtures. Until a few decades ago, lead pipe was widely used for the service lines and connections that carry water from street mains to houses. Lead-based solder was used to join standard copper water pipes until 1988, when lead solder was outlawed. Even today, new brass and bronze faucets can legally be as much as 8 percent lead by weight. These new faucets normally leach lead during the first five years after installation. The lead is leached out while the water sits in the pipes and fixtures.
Where can I have my child tested for lead poisoning?
Detection of an elevated blood lead level is by administering a simple blood test. Your doctor, health care provider, local health clinic, health department or lead poisoning prevention program can test your child's blood for lead.
Children who receive service from Medicaid are eligible for free testing. Private health insurance plans also usually pay for the test.
Can lead poisoning be treated?
Yes, but the best approach is to stop your children from coming into contact with lead in the first place. The most common way to treat lead poisoning in children is to find the lead source and remove it from their environment. Few children have high enough levels of lead in their blood that they require a medicine called a chelating agent. A chelating agent is a type of medicine that helps to remove the lead from the child's body.