Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention


Lead poisoning is considered to be the most serious environmental threat to children’s health. Approximately 1 out of every 11 children between the ages of 1 and 5 years of age may have harmful levels of lead in their blood. If the problem is not detected early, the child could suffer from:  

  • decreased growth
  • learning problems
  • impaired hearing
  • behavior problems (such as hyperactivity)
  • nerve and/or brain damage

Children are more susceptible to the effects of lead, because:

  • children’s growing bodies absorb more lead
  • children’s brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead
  • children often put their hands and other objects in their mouths

Most children do not have any symptoms even if a blood test shows that they have an elevated blood lead level. If your child does have symptoms, they may be mistaken for the flu or other illnesses. If symptoms occur, they might be:

  • stomach ache and cramps
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • frequent vomiting
  • constipation
  • headache
  • sleep disorders
  • poor appetite

Have your child tested and learn the ways to protect your family from lead. 

Childhood lead poisoning is preventable.

Facts on Childhood Lead Poisoning

  • An estimated 900,000 children between one and five years of age have an elevated blood lead level.
  • Blood lead levels in children as low as 10µg/dL can be associated with reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, damaged red blood cell production, hyperactivity, and behavioral problems.
  • People can get lead poisoning from eating lead contaminated soil or paint chips containing lead, and by breathing or swallowing lead dust
  • Kids with lead poisoning don’t always act or look sick.
  • Many homes built before 1978 will have lead-based paint. 
    • The older the home, the more likely it has lead-based paint.
  • Just because your home has lead-based paint does not mean it is a hazard.
  • Immediate attention is required for peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking of lead-based paint.
    • Areas that see a lot of wear and tear and contain lead-based paint may also be problem (window and window sills, doors and door frames, stairs, railings, and banisters, porches and fences).
  • Removing lead improperly can increase the hazard to your family.
  • Paint, dust and soil are the most common sources of lead hazards.
    • However, lead can be found in many other areas such as water, toys, folk remedies, furniture, work places, hobby supplies, lead crystal, lead glazed pottery or porcelain, or in the air.
  • You can reduce the risks of lead poisoning by making sure your child eats a well balanced diet.
  • Knowing the facts about lead can help you prevent or reduce your child’s exposure.

State Contacts

Contact your local county health department for lead poisoning information.

State Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program:
630 Hart Lane
1st Floor, R.S. Gass Laboratory
Nashville, Tennessee 37243
Phone: (615) 532-8462

Tennessee Certified Lead Based Paint Firms, Certification Process and Lead-Based
Paint Pre-Renovation Education Rule:
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
Toxic Substances Program – Lead Hazard Program Division of Solid/Hazardous Waste Management
William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower – 14th Fl
312 Rosa L. Parkes Ave
Nashville, Tennessee 37243
Lead Line:  1-888-771-LEAD (5323)
Local:  (615) 532-LEAD (5323)