Lead Poisoning Prevention

What is lead poisoning?

Faucet dripping (clipart)It's a condition caused by swallowing or inhaling lead. Even small amounts of lead can be harmful. Young children are at greatest risk because their bodies absorb lead more easily than adults' do. A pregnant woman and her unborn baby can be hurt by lead. Lead can be found in paint, dust, soil and tap water.

If lead gets into a child's body what can happen?

It can cause

  • learning problems
  • behavior problems
  • growth problems
  • hearing loss
  • kidney damage
  • anemia

What causes lead poisoning in children?

Naked baby eating cracker (clipart)If old paint crumbles or chips, dust you can't even see can get on babies' or children's hands and be put in their mouths. Lead from other sources can also cause problems if it gets into a child's or pregnant woman's body.

What are the signs of lead poisoning?

Initially lead poisoning symptoms might include stomachaches, crankiness or tiredness before progressing to more serious problems. But usually, there are NO signs. A blood test is the only way to tell.

How can your child be tested?

phone w/dialpad (clipart)Lead testing is available through your health care provider. The Cattaraugus County Health Department offers lead testing based on a sliding fee schedule. No one is turned away because of an inability to pay. A prescription is not necessary to obtain a lead test at the Health Department. For more information, contact the County Lab at 716-373-8055.


Who should be tested?

Birthday cake with one candle (clipart)Every child should be tested. Children should be checked at or before their first birthday, and again at two years of age.



What if a test shows a problem?

  • Sometimes, just a change in diet and more hand washing is enough.
  • Sometimes a child might need medicine to help the body get rid of lead.
  • Your doctor will tell you what to do.
  • Sometimes, the source of the lead must be found and the problem corrected.
  • Your health department can help. If you have questions regarding a lead test, please contact the Health Department at 716-373-8050 ext. 3412 or 3407.

What steps can a parent take to GET AHEAD OF LEAD?

Woman with cleaning utensils and supplies (clipart)

  • Keep children away from paint chips and dust.
  • Damp-mop floors and wet wipe surfaces twice a week.
  • Wet wipe dust in window-wells.
  • Wash your hands often, especially before eating.
  • Wash toys often, especially teething toys.
  • Use COLD water for cooking and mixing formula.
  • Don't store food in open tin cans.
  • Use only lead-free dishes.
  • Don't bring lead home from work. People who work in construction, plumbing, auto repair can be exposed to lead.
  • Wash work clothes separately and don't wear work shoes in your home.
  • Keep children away from remodeling work. Old paint can have lead in it.
  • Be careful with hobbies that might use lead (in fishing lures or paint, for example).
  • Feed your family foods high in iron and calcium such as peas and beans, and dairy products.
  • Give your children healthy snacks.

Invest in your child's future - Have them tested for lead poisoning!

Piggy bank (clipart)

For more information, please contact the Cattaraugus County Preventive Services about Lead Poisoning Prevention at 716-701-3439 or Toll-Free at 1-800-251-2584

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