Information About Child Lead Posioning

Information About Child Lead Posioning

 What Is Lead Poisoning?

  • Lead is a naturally occurring metal that has been used in many products.
  • Some supplements or remedies, imported spices and cosmetics may contain high levels of heavy metals such as lead, mercury or arsenic, which can be dangerous to your health.
  • Lead is harmful to the human body.
  • There is no known safe level of lead in the body.
  • Small amounts of lead can build up in the body and cause lifelong learning and behavior problems. Buildup of lead in the body is referred to as lead poisoning.
  • The United States has taken many steps to remove sources of lead, but lead is still around us.
  • Lead in paint was severely restricted in 1978.
  • Lead solder in food cans was banned in the 1980s.
  • Lead in gasoline was removed during the early 1990s.

What causes Lead Poisoning?

Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing lead. Once it gets into your body, it's poison. Lead can hurt the brain, kidneys, and nervous system, slow down growth and development, make it hard to learn, damage hearing and speech, and cause behavioral problems. Lead can stay in your body for a long time. Young children absorb lead more easily than adults. The harm done by lead may never go away.

Who is primarily at Risk for Lead Poisoning?

  • Young children under six years of age who spend time in homes, childcare centers, or buildings built before 1978 that have chipping or peeling paint. (The old paint may still have lead in it.)
  • Young children who play in bare soil. (They may get it in their mouths.)
  • Young children who eat non-food items. (This behavior is known as "pica.") This may be more common in children with a diet low in iron and calcium.
  • Children who have recently come from or who spend time in other countries where more lead is found.
  • Infants born to mothers with an elevated level of lead in their blood would be at risk for lead poisoning. Lead crosses the placenta and has harmful effects on the fetus. Pregnant women exposed to lead should ask their doctor about a blood test.
  • Adults who work in jobs or hobbies where they work with lead may bring the lead dust home on their clothes or equipment and expose household members.

Children are more susceptible to the effects of lead because: 

  • children's growing bodies absorb more lead
  • children's brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead
  • children often put their hands and other objects in their mouths

Most children do not have any symptoms even if a blood test shows that they have an elevated blood lead level. If your child does have symptoms, they may be mistaken for the flu or other illnesses. If symptoms occur, they might be:

  • stomach ache and cramps
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • frequent vomiting
  • constipation
  • headache

Nassau County Department of Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program Contact Information - 516.227.9665

Important Information

  1. EPA Finalizes $3.2 Million Plan to Cleanup Arsenic and Lead in Soil at the former Li Tungsten Property in Glen Cove, N.Y.
  2. 2012 Health Advisory: Lead Poisoning in Children Associated with Some Ayurvedic Medications from India
  3. Health Warning: Some Imported Items That Contain Lead (NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene)
  4. Good Nutrition Helps Your Family Get Ahead of Lead ( English;  Spanish (PDF))
  5. Lead Imported Products Factsheet (English (PDF); Spanish; French (PDF); Chinese (PDF); Arabic (PDF); Hindi (PDF); Bengali; Urdu (PDF); Punjabi (PDF))

Lead Recall Notifications

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Product Recalls 

New York State Department of Health - Lead Hazard Product Recalls 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Lead Homepage 

International Adoption and Prevention of Lead Poisoning

MMWR-Lead in Drinking Water and Human Blood Levels in the United States (PDF)

Academyof Peds

American Academy of Pediatrics Lead Policy Statement