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Families of Lead Exposed Children

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While lead exposure can affect anyone, children are at highest risk for experiencing its detrimental effects because their bodies are smaller and still developing. Children ages 2 years old and younger are the highest priority for evaluation and testing due to brain development and frequent hand to mouth activity (such as putting toys in their mouth or sucking their thumb that could have picked up lead dust from a source in their immediate living environment). All children ages 6 and under are required to be evaluated for lead exposure risks by their physician and tested if necessary. The Illinois Lead Program recommends all children be evaluated or tested as indicated at ages 12 months and 24 months, and 3, 4,5, and 6 years of age.

Lead Facts

  • Pre-1978 housing consisting of lead paint hazards remains the most prevalent source for lead exposure and nearly 60% of Illinois homes were built prior to 1978.
  • Main sources of lead:
    • Paint, dust, or contaminated soil in or around the home.
    • Drinking water from lead in the home’s plumbing system.
    • Imported items such as foods, medicines, glazed pottery, make up, toys, or jewelry.
    • Other sources of lead exist. please use the IDPH Childhood Lead Risk Questionnaire to determine if a child should have a blood lead test done.
  • Lead in the body has many health effects, especially for young and un-born children.
  • Possible health effects of lead:
    • Damage to the brain and nervous system
    • Slowed growth and development
    • Learning and behavioral problems
    • At extremely high levels, coma and death can occur
    • Find a more detailed list of health effects in our publications

Consumer goods and products can be a source of lead exposure.  Commonly imported items containing lead are: ayurvedic medicine, folk medicines, cosmetics (such as Sindoor and Kumkum), toys, glazed pottery, spices (such as curry powder and turmeric) or other food items. Even consumer goods produced in the US can be recalled due to lead content.  In addition, just because a product says that it was packaged in the US does not mean it was manufactured here and could possibly be a source of lead.  To check product recalls please visit:

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Recalls – for non-food consumer goods: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/

Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Recalls – for food products: https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts

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