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Health Department

Poisonous & Toxic Materials (Child Care Facilities)

Little child wants to play with chemical cleaner

Lead Poisoning

What is Lead Poisoning?

Lead poisoning is an illness resulting from exposure to lead. There is no known safe level of lead for humans, but children are at particular risk of harm from lead exposure. Young children are small, their brains are rapidly developing, and they are more likely to put their hands or contaminated objects in their mouths. Exposure to lead during pregnancy can also increase the risk to the unborn baby.

Exposure to lead can result in damage to the brain and nervous system, slow growth and development, learning and behavior problems, and hearing and speech problems.

Sources of Lead Poisoning

Lead can be found in the environment, including in the paint of homes built before 1978, in water pipes, some toys and jewelry, and some candies or home remedies. Additionally, some hobbies or occupations may result in parents bringing lead home from work. Lead can also be in the air and soil around airports from aviation fuel. Learn more from the CDC.

If you rent a house built before 1978, request to have your home or apartment tested for lead.

Symptoms of Lead Poisoning

Most children with lead in their blood do not have obvious symptoms. They may not look or act sick. The best way to determine if your child has been exposed to lead is to get their blood tested. Blood lead level is the amount of lead in blood and is measured in micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood.

If you are concerned about exposure to lead, contact your child’s primary care provider to schedule a blood lead level test.

How to Reduce the Risk of Lead Poisoning

Primary prevention by avoiding contact with lead is the best strategy to prevent lead poisoning.

  • Have your child’s blood lead level tested.
  • Identify sources of lead in your home and environment.
  • Remove lead and prevent your child from consuming lead.
  • Encourage a healthy diet in your child.
  • Connect with resources in your community through the health department and your care provider.

Lead Poisoning Resources

Air Fresheners

Air fresheners and scent enhancing products

Air fresheners and scent-enhancing products are not permitted in child care facilities. Chemicals in these products can cause skin irritation and respiratory issues including asthma, sneezing, coughing, and headaches.

Products not permitted in child care facilities

  • Aerosol sprays
  • Plug-ins
  • Candles
  • Essential Oils
  • Gel cones
  • Organic items such as citrus peels
  • Incense
  • Moth bolls
  • Urinal blocks
  • Cooking extracts such as vanilla or almond extract

Instead of air fresheners, consider removing sources of unpleasant odors, ventilating rooms with fresh air, keeping rooms clean, and covering trash cans.