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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

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Information for Health Care Providers

Contact the Florida Department of Health

What are the health effects of lead poisoning?

  • In children, even low levels of lead exposure can result in damage to the brain and nervous system, and cause behavior and learning problems.
  • Very high levels of lead in children can cause seizures, coma and even death.
  • Even children who seem healthy can have high levels of lead in their bodies.
  • Lead is more dangerous to children for several reasons:
    • Babies and young children often put their hands and other objects in their mouths. These objects can have lead dust on them.
    • Children's growing bodies absorb more lead than adults.
    • Children's brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.

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What are common sources of lead exposure?

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Lead-Based Paint

  • Dust from lead-based paint is the most common source of lead poisoning for children in the U.S.
  • The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978, but many homes and apartments built before 1978 still contain lead-based paint.
  • Lead-based paint can be found inside and outside of single family homes, apartments, and both public and private housing built before 1978. It can also be found in homes that are in the city, country, or suburbs.
  • Home renovation and repair activities that disturb lead-based paint can put children at great risk for exposure to hazardous lead dust if not done properly.

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Soil Outside

  • Children playing in yards can ingest or inhale lead dust from contaminated soil.
  • Soil can pick up lead from exterior paint.
  • Soil may be contaminated with lead from the past use of leaded gas in cars.

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Household Dust

  • Dust can pick up lead from deteriorating lead-based paint or from soil tracked into a home.
  • Dust can also be brought home on the clothes or equipment of an individual who has a hobby or job that involves lead.

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Drinking Water

  • Plumbing may have lead or lead solder which can contaminate your water.
  • You cannot see, smell, or taste lead. Boiling your water will not get rid of lead.
  • Call your local health department or water supplier to find out about testing your water.

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Jobs and Hobbies

  • Work and hobbies sites where lead is used have lead dust. Individuals can bring it home on their hands or clothes.
  • Hobbies that use lead include making pottery, stained glass, jewelry making, refinishing furniture, home repair and many others.
  • Jobs that involve lead include battery recycling or manufacturing, smelting or welding, heating/air conditioning or ventilation maintenance, auto/radiator repair, and bridge painting.

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Consumer Products

  • Some painted toys and old furniture contain lead.

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Lead Crystal or Lead-Glazed Pottery or Porcelain

  • Food and liquids stored in lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery or porcelain may become contaminated when lead leaches in from these containers.

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Traditional or Folk Remedies

  • Some traditional or folk remedies contain lead, such as "greta" and "azarcon". These items are sometimes used to treat an upset stomach.

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When should a child be tested for lead?

*Note: This page contains materials in the Portable Document Format (PDF). The free Adobe Reader may be required to view these files.

  • Health care providers should follow screening guidelines in Florida's Childhood Lead Poisoning Screening and Case Management Guide.
  • Lead poisoning levels peak in children between the ages of 12 and 36 months. In Florida, Medicaid eligible children are required to be tested at 12 and 24 months of age and between 36 and 72 months if not previously tested.
  • Other children should be tested at that same frequency if they have risk factors, see link to guide above.
  • Lead testing is not usually part of a routine pediatric check up. If parents believe that their child may be at risk for lead poisoning they should ask their provider to test their child's blood for lead.

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Is lead poisoning reportable to the health department?

Yes. Reporting of blood lead test results is mandated under Chapter 64D-3,0 Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.).

  • The results of ALL blood lead tests are reportable to the Florida Department of Health in an approved electronic format by the end of the next business day following laboratory findings.
  • In addition, ALL blood lead test results greater than or equal to 10 µg/dL should be reported to the County Health Department where the patient resides.

For more information about blood lead reporting requirements for Laboratories and Practitioners in Florida, visit our General Lead Reporting Requirements page.

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What follow-up care should be given to a lead poisoned child?

*Note: This page contains materials in the Portable Document Format (PDF). The free Adobe Reader may be required to view these files.

  • Health care providers should follow lead poisoning case management guidelines in Florida's Childhood Lead Poisoning Screening and Case Management Guide.
  • Health care providers are urged to partner with the caregiver and local county health department to ensure the child is promptly removed from the source to prevent further exposure. The first step in this process is identifying the source of exposure by interviewing the care giver and if needed, environmental testing.

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Where can I find more information?

Visit our other pages:

Need additional information?
Florida defers to federal EPA rules regarding lead-based paint practices and certification requirements. If you have additional lead questions please go to the EPA Lead Homepage or call the National Lead Information Center at 1 (800) 424-LEAD (5323).

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