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Facts about Lead Poisoning in Contra Costa County

More than 800 children with elevated blood lead levels have been identified in Contra Costa. Most of these children have been identified in the last eleven years because of routine screening.

  • 475 children had lead levels between 10 - 14 µg/dL.
    161 children had lead levels between 15 - 19 µg/dL.
    158 children had lead levels between 20 - 44 µg/dL.
    6 children had lead levels of 45 µg/dL or higher.
  • About 46% of the children are from the Richmond/San Pablo area.
    Another 26% of the children are from the Pittsburg/Antioch area.
    10% are from the Concord area.
    The rest live throughout the County, in areas as diverse as El Cerrito, Crockett, Brentwood, and San Ramon.

More than 63% of lead-poisoned children in Contra Costa have been under the age of 3 years. Most are one- and two-year olds.

Many sources of lead poisoning have been identified in Contra Costa, including:

  • Paint chips and paint dust, especially in houses built before 1950 that are in poor condition or are being remodeled or repainted
  • Contaminated soil or household dust
  • Jobs, work done at home, or recreational activities that use lead (for example: radiator repair, house painting, casting fishing sinkers, salvaging metals, soldering; and hobbies such as ceramics or target shooting)
  • Consumer products, such as imported or old dishes, pottery, or pewter
  • Home remedies, such as Azarcon, Greta, or Surma.

Many children with lead poisoning are anemic. Foods high in iron and calcium help protect children from lead poisoning.

Most children with lead poisoning do not look or act sick. Parents don't know that their child may have been exposed to lead. The only way to find out if your child has lead poisoning is by getting a blood lead test. If your child is under 6 years of age, ask your doctor to test your child for lead poisoning.

For low-to moderate-income families, the Child Health and Disability Prevention Program (CHDP) provides free medical exams including blood lead testing. Many private insurance policies also cover the cost of a blood lead test. For more information about CHDP eligibility, call 925-313-6150.

Lead poisoning is preventable. For more information, call the Contra Costa County Lead Poisoning Prevention Project at 925-313-6763.