Childhood Lead Poisoning

Childhood Lead Poisoning

Childhood lead poisoning is a disease that occurs when children have too much lead in their bodies. 

Children become lead-poisoned if they:

  • Put lead-based paint chips in their mouths
  • Put dusty or dirty hands, toys, bottles, or pacifiers in their mouths
  • Chew on surfaces painted with lead-based paint
  • Play in dirt or a sandbox where lead-based paint chips have been
  • Breathe in dust from lead-based paint that is being sanded, scraped, or removed

Testing Children

The only way to determine if your child is lead-poisoned is to have their blood tested. It is important to get their blood lead level tested at least once a year until they are six years old. Children may become lead-poisoned after 12 months of age as they become more active. For blood testing call your child’s physician or the Visiting Nurse’s Association.  Children participating in the Lead Hazard Control Program between the ages of 1 - 5 can be tested at their physician’s office or the Visiting Nurse’s Association.  You can contact the VNA at 563.556.6200 or visit:

Protecting Your Children

Lead-based paint hazards must be eliminated from homes to prevent lead poisoning and to help lead-poisoned children get better. However, the presence of lead-based paint does not always mean that there are lead-based paint hazards in the home. Some ways to help protect your children include:

  • Keep your child away from areas of peeling and chipping paint.
  • Check window sills, window troughs, and outdoor play areas.
  • Check your home and other homes or facilities where your child visits.
  • Wash your child’s hands before meals and snacks.
  • Wash your child’s toys and pacifier often.
  • Serve your child at least three healthy meals a day. In addition, serve your child healthy snacks. A child with an empty stomach absorbs more lead.
  • Weekly clean floors, baseboards, and window sills where small children play. Wash woodwork and painted surfaces with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner.

Iowa Department of Public Health

Additional information on Lead Poisoning Prevention and Training can be found at:

Lead Exposure Risk Model

The Lead Exposure Risk Model is a neighborhood-level (census tract) estimate of risk of childhood lead exposure based on age of housing, poverty, and language spoken in the home. 

Lead Poisoning - How to Protect Iowa Families

Lead Poisoning Booklet

National Center for Healthy Housing

The National Center for Healthy Housing’s mission is to secure healthy homes for all. Through partnerships, community-based research, and advocacy, we can reduce health disparities by translating credible science into tools and catalyzing systems change in low-income communities. Visit