Lead poisoning is the most common and preventable environmental disease among California children. While there is no known safe level of lead to have in the body, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified five micrograms per deciliter (5mcg/dl) as the level of concern. Lead can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, damage to the central nervous system, and at very high levels may cause seizures, coma, and even death. There is no cure for lead poisoning however, medical treatment can lower the level of lead in the blood. The best way to address childhood lead poisoning is to prevent exposure. For additional information visit County of Santa Cruz Public Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention.
Environmental Health (EH) coordinates with the Division of Public Health’s nurses during home environmental investigations to determine the source of lead poisoning for children with high levels of lead in their blood. Additionally, EH provides outreach and guidance to the public on lead safe work practices, lead hazard reduction and related issues.
Screening is the only way to know if a child has elevated blood lead levels. Consult with a doctor about getting a blood lead test if you think your child may be at risk of lead exposure. Blood lead tests are free when your child gets a Well Child Check-up, if you have Medi-Cal or if you are in the Child Health and Disability Prevention Program. Also, health insurance plans cover bloodwork for lead testing.