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County of Los Angeles
Department of Public Health
Environmental Health
5050 Commerce Drive
Baldwin Park, CA 91706
(888) 700-9995

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Information for Parents

How to protect your family from the following lead hazards:


In homes built before 1978:

  • Make sure that painted surfaces are kept in good condition. Don’t let paint start to peel or deteriorate
  • Clean hard floors with a wet mop
  • Wipe window sills, counters and other horizontal surfaces with a wet cloth – don’t stir up dust
  • Use a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) vacuum to clean carpets. Other types of vacuum cleaners may spread lead dust around the house
  • Cover bare soil areas with grass, concrete, or bark
  • Make sure that any repairs that disturb painted surfaces are done using safe lead work practices (dust-free and contained)


The following occupations may be exposed to lead:

  • Contractor
  • Painter
  • Welder
  • Plumber
  • Sandblasting
  • Car repair
  • Battery recycling
  • Furniture refinishing

  • The following hobbies may lead to lead exposure
  • Stained Glass
  • Lead miniatures
  • Fishing (weights)
  • Shooting/hunting
  • Jewelry design
  • Antique furniture restoration

  • If you are exposed to lead in your work or with any hobbies:
    • Make sure that you wash thoroughly when finished working or before coming home
    • Change work clothes before entering your home
    • Wash work clothes separately from the rest of the family’s clothes


    Limit the amount of imported candies your family eats. Imported candies from Mexico frequently have lead levels above what is allowed by California state law, especially if the candies have tamarind or chili powder. The amount of lead from candies can build up in the body over time and studies have shown that even small amounts of lead in a child’s body can lead to permanent learning and behavioral problems. The list of candies that are hazardous changes frequently. It is safer to avoid these types of candies until they are consistently proven to be safe. Visit the California Food & Drug Brach website for the latest information on lead candy recalls.


    Knowing what toys and jewelry are safe can be difficult. Some lead test kits can be used to test the product, but they will only tell you if the surface paint contains lead. You can visit the CDC’s website to check for the latest recalls. Also, examine the condition of your child’s toys. Remove any that are damaged or where the paint is coming off. If your child doesn’t chew on toys, they can still be exposed by lead paint or dust on their hands. Wash your child’s hands regularly after playing and before eating.


    Many imported home remedies, such as Greta, Azarcon, and Suma, contain dangerous levels of lead or other poisons. Also, dietary or herbal supplements are not inspected by the FDA. High lead levels have been found in some imported herbal supplements. If you or your child has taken any of these products, discuss this with your doctor and ask for a lead test.


    Drinking water can be contaminated by lead from old water pipes, solder, and brass fixtures. Although laws have reduced the amount of lead permissible in drinking water systems, enough remains to be a problem. When water sits in the pipes for more than 6 hours, lead can begin to leech into the water. If you haven’t used your water for a while, it is recommended that you run the cold water for at least 1 minute before you drink it or use it for cooking. Never use hot water from the tap for cooking or making formula – lead will leach out faster with hot water.


    Unfortunately, the symptoms for lead poisoning are very difficult to spot, especially at very low levels. The only way to know for sure if you or your child have lead poisoning is through testing. Remember, even very low levels of lead in the blood can cause permanent harm. It is important to know as soon as possible if you or your child have lead poisoning so that any required medical treatment can begin and the source for the poisoning can be found.


    For information on toys, crafts, jewelry and accessories, furniture, foodware and other items that have been recalled due to lead, visit the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website.
    CDC logo

    For more information, call 1-800-LA-4-LEAD (5323).

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    Director of Environmental Health
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