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  • Lead and Health Risks

    Common Sources of Lead

    Houses and buildings built before 1978

    Lead paint that peels or cracks may create lead dust or chips that a young child may breathe in or swallow. Old buildings may have lead plumbing fixtures, such as faucets or pipes may leech lead into the drinking water.

    Drinking water

    Children in schools and child care centers may be exposed through water they drink or food that has been prepared with contaminated water. Lead in drinking water has no taste, scent or color. Drinking water is not a common source of lead poisoning in Arizona. Boiling water will not get rid of lead. Tucson Water and other approved water distributors regularly test and monitor lead levels.

    Imported Food or Goods

    Candies, traditional home remedies or food products from other countries may contain lead. Antique or imported toys and ceramics may also contain lead. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limits lead in products made in the U.S.

    See more places lead is found in the environment

    Health Effects

    Pregnant women, infants, and children younger than six are most vulnerable to the health effects of lead. Lead poisoning symptoms are difficult to identify and and even small amounts of lead may cause health effects, including:

    Low levels of chronic lead exposure may cause:
    • Reduced IQ and Attention Span
    • Learning Disabilities
    • Behavioral Problems
    • Impaired Growth
    High levels of lead may cause:
    • Serious brain damage
    • Convulsions
    • Coma
    • Death

    Prevent Lead Poisoning

    • Use water from the cold tap instead of the hot tap to make baby formula, drink and cook.
    • Let the water run for 30 seconds to two minutes to clear the pipe if the faucet hasn’t been turned on for six or more hours.
    • If you have an older house, do not sand off or strip layers of paint yourself. Use certified renovators or consult safety guidelines when renovating, repairing and painting. 
    • If you are pregnant, nursing or care for a young child and are concerned about lead exposures, consult your doctor. 
    • Do not use pottery or ceramics that are antique, imported, or handmade for serving, preparing, or storing food.
    • Keep children’s play areas clean and dust free. Do not allow children to eat dirt. 
    • If you are exposed to lead at work, be sure to shower and change into clean clothes and shoes before leaving work. 
    • Eat foods that are rich in calcium, iron and vitamin C.

    School Water Testing

    The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is proactively testing lead levels in water at schools across the state through a Public School Drinking Water Lead Screening Program. The program is not a response to indications of lead contamination in schools, but rather part of a statewide initiative to ensure that children in all public schools have safe drinking water.
    See which schools will be tested and the results 

    More information about the School Water Testing program  

    Additional Resources:

    School Testing FAQs

     FAQS for parents
        Public School Lead FAQs
        ADEQ Fact Sheet
          Top Ten List

    Information for Providers

    The CDC has a longstanding initiative to promote lead-safe environments for children. Ongoing federal programs and activities for early identification and intervention for children with lead poisoning is being leveraged by the state of Arizona through a number of programs, including the ADHS Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program and Public School Drinking Water Lead Screening Program. These programs set statewide goals to improve screening rates in high-risk zip codes and increase provider reporting of elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs). 

    Screening High Risk Children

    This questionnaire can help identify children with high risk of exposure to lead. If your practice serves children in the following zip codes, blood lead screenings at 12 months and 24 months are strongly recommended:

    Ajo: 85321
    Green Valley: 85614
    Sahuarita: 85692
    Sells and Pisinemo: 85634 
    Tucson: 85701, 85704, 85705, 85706, 85710, 85711, 85712, 85713, 85714, 85715, 85716, 85719, 85730, 85735, 85736, 85741, 85745, 85746, 85750, 85756 and 85757


    Providers and laboratories are required to report elevated blood lead levels to ADHS. 

    Providers will report elevated blood lead levels greater than 10 µg/dL within 5 days, or lead levels exceeding 45 µg/dL within 1 day. Testing to confirm and monitor elevated blood lead levels will be conducted. Report by filling out this form.

    Laboratories will report all blood lead levels, regardless of blood lead level within 1 month if levels are below 10 µg/dL, within 5 days if levels are between 10 and 45 µg/dL, or within 1 day if lead levels exceed 45 µg/dL. Report by filling out this form.

    Telephone Report

    Fax Report

    Secure Electronic Transfer

    Mail Report
    Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
    150 N 18th Ave, Suite 140
    Phoenix, AZ 85007


    Case Studies on Pediatric Environmental Health

    Key Federal Programs to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Eliminate Associated Health Impacts

    Information for Parents

    Childhood lead poisoning is preventable

    Childhood Lead Poisoning            español

    lead                     lead

    Child Testing

    A simple blood test can detect lead exposure.  Ask your child’s doctor if you are concerned about lead. Contact the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program to get help identifying sources of lead in your home. 

    Sign up for health insurance and receive help finding a primary care provider.

    Information when Pregnant

    If you are pregnant and are chronically exposed to lead, it can be passed to your unborn baby or may be associated with a miscarriage. Chronic, elevated lead exposure may cause your baby to be born too early or be too small. It can affect the baby’s brain, kidneys, nervous system, and may cause learning or behavior problems.  It can affect the baby’s brain, kidneys, nervous system, and may cause learning or behavior problems. Ask your doctor if you are concerned about lead exposure. Prevent lead exposure .  to keep you and your baby safe from lead poisoning.

    Local Resources

    Pima County Department of Environmental Quality operates programs to monitor air and water quality, hazardous waste, solid waste, and assist in waste minimization and pollution prevention.

    "Get The Lead Out" - City of Tucson

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