Lead Awareness

Lead poisoning has been a problem for centuries. There are many sources of lead poisoning that remain even today. The main source in the USA today is lead-based paint. Scroll over the sources below to learn about each one.

It continues today in our community mainly because of deteriorating homes that were once painted with lead-based paint (LBP). It was added to the paint to make it shinier, last longer, and keep its color. However, as a known neuro-toxin, the use of lead in paint was banned in the United States of America in 1978. Any home built before that time has a chance of having lead paint – the older the home, the more likely to contain LBP. For more information, see the  Housing and Urban Development website.

Toys/Cosmetics/Home Remedies
Some toys and cosmetics have lead in them which can be a direct exposure route. For a current list of recalled products that were found to exceed the allowable limit of lead, please see the  Consumer Product Safety Commission website. Some home remedies like Greta and azarcon have lead in them.

Water systems may contaminate the water supply if the pipes were soldered with lead, if the pipes are lead, or if brass fittings or faucets contain some lead. There are ways to keep your family safe from possible lead hazards in water that the US Environmental Protection Agency describes here.

Soil can expose a person to lead if it has been previously contaminated with lead. This may have happened because of the presence of industries or smelters that once used lead, or from deteriorated LBP that has fallen into the soil, or from car exhaust left when leaded gasoline was commonly used. People can be exposed to it when children play in the yard/playground, or when we track it in on our shoes and leave it on the floor in the house. The  Environmental Protection Agency has more information about that.

People who repair old structures that were painted with LBP can be exposed to lead, and bring it home on their clothes. Other jobs like car mechanic may expose you to lead. Some hobbies like stained glass making, target shooting, pottery making, and casting fishing weights may expose you to lead, too. It is important to wash work clothes and keep hobbies contained and clean to limit exposure. Talk to your employer directly to determine the likelihood of lead exposure. See Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines for related information.

Lead affects many body systems, but it is most invasive to the central nervous system. It inhibits the brain from developing as it should, which affects behavior, and the ability to learn and pay attention. Lead has detrimental effects on adults and pregnant women. Children less than 6 years old, however, are most susceptible to being poisoned because they are more likely to put non-food items in their mouths and because their brains are developing so quickly. Click on the icons below to find out how ESHD’s lead program is addressing this problem.

The nursing department takes blood samples to screen kids ages 6 months – 6 years old for lead poisoning. The only way to know if a person has lead poisoning is to get a blood test. All children in our community should be tested annually, if not more. Contact the lead program with specific questions.

For children who have a particularly high lead level (10mcg/dL), we provide case management services to connect the families to the knowledge and resources it takes to maintain the child’s health. The most important things parents can do to keep their children safe around lead are to

  1. remove the lead source from the environment
    2. clean the housing environment with wet soapy water (not a broom!)
    3. clean children’s hands before eating and after playing outside
    4. feed them a healthy diet rich in calcium, iron, and vitamin C
    5. and to play with your kids which encourages brain development

Environmental Services
The environmental department has three licensed lead risk assessors who are responsible for inspecting the dwellings of children with elevated blood lead levels. Once the inspection is complete, a mitigation notice is sent to the dwelling owner explaining what needs to get fixed, and the options he/she has to fix the structure.

If you are concerned about your home, you may contact us at the below number with questions. Also, the Saint Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Department has a Lead Hazard Reduction Program. If you meet their qualifications, you may be eligible for your home to be inspected and mitigated.

If you do home construction/repair or just work on your own home, please follow the guidelines outlined in this EPA document to make sure your family and neighborhood stay safe from lead. You may need to do more research to ensure you are keeping people safe.

The EPA issued the Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule in April 2008. As a contractor, you have responsibilities. See their website for more information and current updates.

Contact us today with any questions or feedback you might have:
618-874-4713, extension 200; ask for the lead program staff!

Main Address
650 N 20th Street
East St. Louis, IL 62205


Monday – Friday
8 am to 4 pm

Clinic Address
638 N 20th Street
East St. Louis, IL 62205


Monday – Friday
8 am to 4 pm

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