MCAH Programs

Contact Information
Los Angeles County                 Department of Public Health
Childhood Lead Poisoning
Prevention Program
5555 Ferguson Drive, Suite 210-02
Commerce, CA 90022
(800) LA-4-LEAD
Fax (323) 890-8736
Lead Exposure

Children can be exposed to lead in many ways. Sources of exposure include deteriorated paint in dwellings built before 1978 (windows, doors, walls, and wooden trims). Lead-contaminated dust, soil and water; lead-containing materials used in occupations or hobbies; and lead-containing ceramicware and traditional remedies all contribute to childhood lead exposure. Lead-contaminated house dust, ingested in the course of normal hand-to-mouth activity, is of major significance. House dust is most often contaminated by lead-based paint in the home, when such paint is peeling, deteriorating, or scattered about during home renovation or preparation of painted surfaces for repainting.

Lead in the Air
In countries where leaded gasoline is used, most people are exposed to lead by breathing air containing lead emissions from vehicles, especially those that live near busy roads. Leaded gasoline was phased out in U.S. in 1995. Communities living near industries that use and emit lead also may breathe air that contains high levels of lead.

Lead in the air also deposited to the ground and remains in street and house dust, soil, and sediments.

Prenatal Exposure to Lead
Exposure to lead starts even before conception. The body stores lead. Its half-life ( the length of time it takes to reduce the concentration of lead by 50 percent) in blood and soft tissue is about a month. Leadís half-life in bone is some thirteen years for adults. The figure is unknown for children.) In times of stress, including pregnancy, the lead stored in bones is released into the blood stream. Lead easily crosses the placental barrier throughout the gestation period, including the critical period during which the central nervous system is formed. Reducing exposure to lead while pregnant is especially important because pregnant women absorb much more of the lead they ingest than do other adults. †

Housing with Lead-Based Paint††
Lead-based paint in homes is the most important remaining source of lead exposure for U.S. children. But 83% of all homes built in the United States before 1978 still contain some lead-based paint. The older the house, the more likely it is to contain lead-based paint and to have a higher concentration of lead in the paint. Housing built before 1950 poses the greatest risk of exposure to children. Such housing is present in every state. †

Other Sources of Lead Exposures†
Home Remedies and Cosmetics

  • Al Kolh
  • Alarcon
  • Albayalde
  • Azarcon
  • Bala Goli
  • Coral Liga
  • Ghasard Maria Luisa
  • Greta Pay-loo-ah
  • Kandu Rueda
  • Kohl Surma
Hobbies & Home Activities
  • Recreational use of firing ranges
  • Home repairs, repainting or remodeling
  • Furniture refinishing
  • Stained glass making
  • Casting ammunition
  • Making fishing weights or sinkers, or toy soldiers
  • Using lead solder (e.g.., for electronics)
  • Using lead-containing artistsí paints or ceramic glazes
  • Burning lead-painted wood
  • Car or boat repair
Industries, Work Sites, Occupations, and
Associated Materials
  • Secondary smelting and refining of nonferrous metals
  • Brass/copper foundries
  • Firing ranges
  • Automotive repair shops
  • Bridge, tunnel, and elevated highway construction
  • Motor vehicle parts and accessories
  • Storage batteries (lead batteries)
  • Valve and pipe fittings
  • Plumbing fixture fittings and trim
  • Pottery
  • Chemical and chemical preparations
  • Industrial machinery and equipment
  • Inorganic pigments
  • Primary batteries, dry and wet
Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
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