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Healthy Homes and Childhood Lead Poisoning

Lead is one of the most common hazards in the home. Lead poisoning is also the most common environmental illness among California children and is preventable. Lead is known to be toxic to the human body even at low levels. It impairs the development of the nervous system and causes damage to other organs. Even small amounts may cause lifelong learning and behavior problems.

Lead was commonly added to residential paint in houses built before 1950. At that time the lead content in paint was as high as 50% by weight. This practice caused lead poisoning of millions of children, mainly in low-income families. Although lead-based paint was banned for use in housing in 1978, homes and other buildings constructed before the ban may still contain lead-based paint. Whether these homes are renovated, or the paint simply deteriorates, these older homes pose a threat to children living in them.

Childhood Lead Poisoning in California

In 2011, 15,709 of the children under 6 years of age tested in California had an elevated blood lead level of 4.5 or more micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (g/dL); 1,920 of them had blood lead levels of 9.5 g/dL or more. Learn more about childhood lead poisoning in California from our data query.

Preventing Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning is preventable. There are numerous steps that can help reduce your family's exposure to lead. Major areas of prevention are checking your home for hazards, including testing for lead content in and around the home, and fixing existing hazards. For information about how to test for lead and how to contact your local lead prevention program visit the California Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch (CLPPB). To learn more about specific steps you can take visit NCHH Lead Hazards, Prevention, and Solutions.