Lead Poisoning Prevention
Lead poisoning is a serious, but preventable, public health problem that can result in long-lasting neurological damage to young children. Lead poisoning is defined as a blood lead level greater than or equal to 5 µg/dL of whole blood.
Most cases remain undiagnosed and untreated because low blood lead levels are not often associated with overt symptoms. However, blood lead levels as low as 5 µg/dL can adversely affect intelligence, learning, behavior, and development. At extremely high levels (45 µg/dL or higher), lead poisoning can cause seizures, coma, and even death in children.
Great advances have been made in reducing lead exposure during the past 20 years. Lead is no longer present in gasoline, new supplies of house paint, or cans used for food or beverages. Lead also has been reduced in industrial emissions, drinking water, hazardous waste and consumer goods.
As a result, there has been a decline of more than 80 percent in children's blood lead levels since the mid 1970s. In 1978, roughly 14.8 million children in the United States suffered from lead poisoning. By the late 1990s, that number had declined to 434,000 (2.2%) children, according to estimates of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2020 initiative has set a national goal of reducing mean blood lead levels in children to 1.4 µg/dL by 2020.
Sources of exposure to lead:
- Lead based paint
- Lead contaminated dust, soil, and water
- Lead containing materials in parental occupations or hobbies
- Lead containing tiles and ceramic ware
- Lead containing imported mini-blinds
- Lead contaminated food
- Some cosmetics and folk remedies
- Lead polluted air in industrial sites and smelters
- Other items such as necklaces, lunch boxes and toys
Risk factors for lead poisoning in Miami-Dade County:
- Living in a home built before 1950
- Living in a recently remodeled home built before 1978
- Living in central urban area or close to major highways
- Having a sibling or playmate with lead poisoning
- Having been exposed to lead poisoning in another country
Healthy Homes, Lead, and Asthma Program
The Miami-Dade County Health Department has received approximately 250 reports of elevated blood lead levels annually from 2000 to 2011. One of the most important objectives of the CDC funded program, since its inception in 1999, has been to increase primary prevention activities and lead screening among children at high risk to lead poisoning. In following and modifying the CDC recommendations for targeted screening of children for lead poisoning, the Miami-Dade County Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program CLPPP has issued screening guidelines for primary care physicians.
The program works on the Healthy Homes initiative to raise awareness of environmental health risks in homes such as lead-based paint, mold, carbon monoxide, pesticides, and hazardous household products through one-on-one family education, realtor and landlord education. To reduce or eliminate environmental hazards in the home, the program refers families to local health and housing programs to fix their hazards.
CLPPP Program activities include:
- Case management
- Environmental investigations
- Policy development
- Community Outreach Education and Training
Case management services (5 µg Pb/dL):
- Risk Assessment Questionnaire
- Assess exposure
- Identify at-risk siblings and playmates
- Lead poisoning prevention
- Advise on follow-up care
- Facilitate medical care access
- Inform provider of follow-up recommendations
- Refer to WIC, Healthy Start, Children’s Medical Services and other social services
- Environmental Investigations
- A child that is 6 or under with a confirmed blood lead level (BLL) ≥ 20 µg/dL, or if they have two confirmed BLL’s 15 µg/dL that are taken more than 3 months apart
Information about Lead Poisoning
For the community:
Resources for families who would like information on preventing and controlling lead poisoning:
Who: All healthcare providers are required to report lead poisoning [Florida Statute 381.0031(1, 2) and Florida Administrative Code 64D-3]
What: Reportable level: greater than or equal to 5 µg Pb/dL blood. HIPAA not a concern.
How: Call (305) 470-6877 or fax report form to (305) 470-5533.
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Reporting Form
For medical management questions:
Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
Contact Information for Childhood Lead Poisoning and Prevention Program:
For information regarding Miami-Dade County Health Department services please call our Main Number (305) 324-2400. For Florida Relay Services, please call 1-800-955-8771.