Child and Teen Checkups (C&TC)

Lead Poisons Kids: Are your kids at risk?

Adapted from Hennepin County Public Health Protection Environmental Health Services and Oregon Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention materials. Used with permission May 2009.

Printable Brochure (PDF: 166KB/2 pages)

Did you know?

Lead Poisoning is Preventable
Children can get lead in their bodies by breathing or swallowing dust that contains lead. During pregnancy, lead can pass from a mother to her baby. Even small amounts can be harmful. Children are at risk for lead poisoning because lead can slow growth and development. The effects of lead poisoning can be with a child for life.

This brochure contains answers to common questions. Find out where lead hazards can be, if your child is at risk, how to protect your child from lead poisoning, and who you can talk to about lead.

What are the warning signs?

Children can be hurt by lead and may not look or act sick. The danger is hard to see. The only way to know if your child has lead poisoning is to have his or her blood tested.

How can lead poisoning affect my child?

  • Brain damage
  • Reading and learning problems
  • Lowered intelligence
  • Behavior problems
  • Slowed growth
  • Kidney and liver damage

Where do lead hazards come from?

Paint used before 1978 may contain lead. If the paint is chipping, peeling, or chalking it may be a problem.

Lead dust is the main source of lead poisoning. Paint & soil that contain lead can make lead dust. Lead dust mixes with household dust and can gather on surfaces, in carpets and on toys.

Some imported pottery and ceramic cookware have lead in the glaze. Lead can be carried into the home from a workplace (painters, remodelers, radiator repair etc.) or hobbies (stained glass solder, bullets, fishing sinkers, etc.) that use lead.

Some candy from Mexico and some toys from China contain lead. For a information on candy or toys that may contain lead, contact your local or state health department or visit

Soil around homes and apartment buildings can contain lead. Children may come into contact with lead by playing in bare dirt. Lead in the soil may enter vegetables planted in the garden.

Some household plumbing may contain lead solder. Under certain conditions, lead can get into the water if water sits in these pipes.

Is my child at risk for lead poisoning?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, please ask your health care provider for a blood lead test.

Yes No Question
Does your child live in or regularly visit a home or day care built before 1950?
Does your child live in or regularly visit a home or day care built before 1978 with ongoing remodeling?
Does your child have a family member or playmate that has or did have lead poisoning?
Does your child chew or eat nonfood items such as dirt, paint chips, chalk, crayons, or woodwork?
Does anyone in the household have a job or hobby that uses lead?
Does your child receive MinnesotaCare, WIC, or Medical Assistance?

How can I protect my child?

Blood Lead Testing
Talk to your health care provider to see if you are at risk for lead exposure during pregnancy. If you are at risk, you may need a blood lead test.

Have your child’s blood lead level tested by their health care provider. Children with too much lead in their blood may need more tests.

Regular Washing
Wash children’s hands, pacifiers, and toys often to remove dust.

Keep the places where children play clean and dust free. Regularly wetwipe floors, window sills, and other surfaces that may contain lead dust.

A Safer Home
Have children play on grass instead of bare dirt.

Take off shoes when entering a home to avoid tracking in soil that may contain lead.

If you work with lead in your job or hobby, change clothes and shower before you go home.

Healthy Foods
Do not use imported, old, or handmade pottery to store food or drinks. Provide meals high in iron, vitamin C, and calcium which help prevent young bodies from absorbing lead.

Use only cold water for drinking, cooking, or baby formula. Run the water 15-30 seconds until it feels colder.

Who can I ask for more information?

Talk to your local C&TC Coordinator or your child’s health care provider for information on getting a blood lead test.

Child and Teen Checkups Program
Maternal and Child Health Assurance Section
Minnesota Department of Human Services
P.O. Box 0986
St. Paul, MN 55155

Child & Adolescent Health Unit
Community & Family Health Division
Minnesota Department of Health
P.O. Box 64882
St. Paul, MN 55164-0882

Lead Program
Environmental Health Division
Minnesota Department of Health