Lead poisoning is the number one environmental hazard threatening children throughout the United States. Children younger than age 6 and pregnant women are at the greatest risk for lead poisoning because lead inhibits the proper physical and cognitive development in children and infants. Even low levels of lead poisoning can cause hyperactivity, aggressive behavior, learning disabilities, lowered IQ, speech delay and hearing impairment. High levels of lead can cause severe mental disabilities, convulsions, coma or even death.
EHC conducts outreach in low-income communities to identify and eliminate sources of lead poisoning. EHC is committed to preventing, identifying and remedying lead hazards before children are poisoned.
Lead poisoning is one of the most preventable environmental health hazards today – just eliminate the exposure. The most common source of lead is house paint, especially paint manufactured before 1978. Children living in pre-1979 units that are poorly maintained are at the highest risk for lead poisoning.
EHC Community Organizers provide lead poisoning education to at-risk families, assist parents in getting their children tested for lead poisoning, and help them remove lead hazards through available programs.
Get more information on our lead-safe housing programs.
Children are at the highest risk of lead poisoning due to their frequent hand-to-mouth behavior, small stature, rapidly developing nervous system and high absorption of lead compared to adults. Although the outcomes of lead poisoning are serious and long lasting, the symptoms are subtle. The best way to know if a child has lead poisoning is to have a blood lead test.
As part of our Healthy Kids Campaign, EHC coordinates free blood-lead testing for at-risk children and pregnant women in San Diego's low-income communities. The non-invasive test involves collecting a blood sample from a small finger prick. Test results are immediate. If a child is identified with a blood-lead level of five or more micrograms per deciliter, families are referred for further medical evaluation. In addition, families are offered a free home inspection. If evidence of lead-based paint is found, the home is scheduled for lead remediation.
Other sources of lead
In addition to old paint, lead can be found in soil, pottery and other unexpected places, especially imported products, including candy, toys, and home remedies. All of these sources have contributed to the lead poisoning of children in San Diego County.
Learn about our work on lead-free candy.
Download for information on lead in pottery.