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Who Is at Risk for Lead Poisoning

Who's at Risk and Why?

  • Low income children
    Nationwide data show that young children in publicly-assisted programs such as MediCal are at much higher risk for lead poisoning.
  • Children living in old, deteriorating housing
    Lead-based paint is still the major source of childhood lead poisoning.
    More than half of Contra Costa cases have been linked to lead-based paint.
    Statewide percentages are even higher.
  • Children of any income living in older housing that is being renovated or repainted
    Activities that disturb lead-based paint and create lead dust are very dangerous, especially for young children. They can also harm adults, including workers and owner-occupants engaged in do-it-yourself projects.

There are over 97,000 housing units built before 1960 in Contra Costa.
Because Contra Costa has experienced such rapid housing growth, percentages of old housing have declined overall. As the tables below show, older housing is not evenly distributed, and even within a community there are areas where the high-risk older housing is more concentrated. (State and federal agencies recommend targeted screening of all young children, regardless of income, in communities where > 27% of housing was built before 1960.)

Percentages of Pre-1960 Housing in Selected Central & East County Cities*

CityPercentage of Pre-1960 Housing - Citywide -Percentage of Pre-1960 Housing- Selected Census Tracts -
Antioch17%61% (CT 3071.02)
Brentwood9%28% (CT 3031)
Concord27%66% (CT 3300)
Lafayette52%53% (CT 3480)
Martinez27%81% (CT 3170)
Orinda56%64% (CT 3540.01)
Pittsburg21%73% (CT 3100)
Pleasant Hill34%57% (CT 3230)
* Based on 2000 U.S. Census data

Percentages of Pre-1960 Housing in Selected West County Cities*

CityPercentage of
Pre-1960 Housing
Percentage of
Pre-1960 Housing
-Selected Census Tracts-
Richmond48%80% (CT 3700 & 3710)
El Cerrito66%94% (CT 3902)
San Pablo38%59% (CT 3672)
Kensington84%86% (CT 3910)
Crockett77%79% (CT 3570)
Rodeo39%63% (CT 3580)
* Based on 2000 U.S. Census data

Cultural Risk Factors

  • Lead-glazed pottery and traditional home remedies from Mexico have been sources of lead exposure for many Contra Costa children. The federal General Accounting Office reports that children of Hispanic origin are at greater risk for lead poisoning, regardless of income.
  • Eye products, such as surma and kohl, have been sources of lead poisoning for some children, primarily from Indian, Pakistani, or Afghani families.
  • Many lead poisoning cases have a history of recent immigration, travel or visitors from another country - most commonly Mexico, but as diverse as Russia, Bulgaria, and China.

Other Sources

Many other lead exposure sources have been identified; including lead dust brought home on work clothes, work done at home, lead in vinyl mini blinds, fishing sinkers, or other household products.

Contra Costa County Lead Poisoning Prevention Project 1-866-FIX-LEAD