Lead and Healthy Homes Division
Protecting children from exposure to lead is important to lifelong good health. No level of lead in the blood has been found to be safe. Lead is a naturally occurring metal that can be found in the air, soil, dust and paint inside or outside of some homes and other buildings built before 1978. Too much lead exposure can cause serious health problems, but fortunately, lead toxicity can be prevented. Lead is toxic to everyone, but because their bodies are still developing and growing rapidly, lead is especially toxic to unborn babies and to young children less than six years of age. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to seriously harm a child’s health and cause adverse effects.
The primary goals of the IDOH Lead and Healthy Homes Division are to track the prevalence of lead exposure in children throughout Indiana and to support local health departments and community partners in taking the necessary steps to promote primary prevention efforts to minimize that exposure and the resulting health risks. This is done through education, proactive screening, treatment, case management, and the remediation of lead hazards.
What Are the Health Effects of Lead Exposure?
- Damage to brain & nervous system
- Learning and behavior problems
- Slowed growth & development
- Nausea, hearing loss
What Are the Sources of Lead?
- Lead-based paint, most often found in homes built before 1978
- Lead in household dust from painted surfaces rubbing, paint peeling & cracking
- Certain plastics, painted toys, jewelry, other consumer products
- Imported canned foods, jewelry, candy
How Does Lead Get Into the Body?
Lead enters the body in two ways – breathing it in or by swallowing it.
- Lead enters the body by swallowing paint chips, lead-bearing dust on toys and other items from the floor, or contaminated soil
- Lead enters the body by breathing air containing small particles of leaded paint dust
- Lead can enter water through old plumbing/fixtures although not a common source
How Can Lead Toxicity Be Prevented?
For children under 6 years of age, talk with your doctor about a simple lead test.
Talk to your local health department about testing your home if it was built before 1978.
- Wash children’s hands frequently, wash toys, pacifiers & bottles often.
- Keep house clean & dust free, clean or remove shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in lead dust.