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Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
Protecting Your Family
The Consumer Product Safety Commission maintains an updated list of products recalled for unsafe lead content.
We can be exposed to lead through a wide range of source, from housing to hobbies, solder to spices, toys to turmeric. Our occupation, the year in which our house was built, the kinds of goods we bring into our homes and the recreational activities we enjoy all have the potential to bring us into contact with lead. Surveillance statistics shed light on some of the most common sources of exposure, which tend to vary on a national and regional level.
- National Sources of Exposure
- Leaded Paint in older homes, toys, furniture and crafts - The federal government banned the use of lead in paint in 1978; however, many homes, painted toys and furniture made before 1978 may still contain lead-based paint.
- Dust & Soil - Lead-based paint becomes a concern when it chips, turns into dust, or gets into the soil.
- Drinking water - Lead typically enters drinking water as a result of the corrosion of materials containing lead in older plumbing. Older homes and buildings may contain plumbing that can potentially contaminate drinking water.
- Children's jewelry and toys - Inexpensive children's jewelry and toys found in vending machines and discount stores may contain lead. Some costume jewelry intended for adults has also been found to contain lead. Parents must ensure that children don't handle or mouth jewelry of any kind.
- Workplace and hobbies - People exposed to lead at work may bring lead home on their clothes, shoes, hair, or skin. Some jobs that may expose people to lead include:
- Painting and Refinishing
- Car or Radiator Repair
- Welding & Cutting
- Working with Scrap Metal
Some hobbies also have the potential for lead exposure. These hobbies include:
- Stained Glass
- Refinishing Furniture
- Using an Indoor Firing Range
- Leaded Crystal & Pewter - Lead-glazed cooking ware is usually imported from other countries. Foods or liquids that have been cooked, served or stored in lead glazed ceramics, pottery, pewter, china, or crystal may be contaminated.
- Firearms with Lead Bullets - People can be exposed to lead whether by ingesting game shot with leaded bullets, or though inhaling lead dust concentrated in indoor shooting ranges.
- Mini-Blinds - Some imported vinyl mini-blinds are contaminated with lead.
- Car Batteries & Radiators - Some car batteries and radiators contain lead. People who work on cars should prevent children from playing with their work clothes, shoes, gloves and tools.
- Consumer Products - The Consumer Product Safety Commission keeps an updated list of products containing lead.
- Arizona & Regional Specific Sources of Exposure
- Mexican Lead-Glazed Ceramics - Leaded ceramic ware is one of the leading causes of elevated blood lead levels in children throughout Arizona and the South Western United States. Lead glazed pottery, often made in Mexico, is used primarily by Hispanic communities to simmer foods for extended periods of time, during which lead in the pottery or its glaze can be absorbed into food and liquids.
- Imported Candies or Foods - Some candies imported from Mexico have been found to contain lead. Certain ingredients, such as chili powder and tamarind, are found to be the most common source of exposure. Lead has also been found in the ink of some imported candy wrappers.
- Mexican Folk & Ayurvedic Remedies - Lead has been found in some traditional folk remedies used by Hispanics, East Indians, Middle Easterners and West Asians. In Arizona, the most common lead contaminated folk remedies used by Hispanic populations are Greta and Azarcon. They are typically used to treat an upset stomach (empacho), constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and are often given to teething babies.
- Contaminated Spices - The most frequently contaminated spice is turmeric; however, high lead levels have been found in nearly every kind of spice. Most contaminated spices are purchased at East Indian and Asian import grocery stores, or have been brought into the country by individual consumers. Spices become contaminated with lead when they are combined with lead oxide - an orange or red powder that closely resembles many spices. Some spices, particularly turmeric, are very expensive to produce, and the addition of lead oxide brings in greater profits for vendors. The threshold in which lead content in food is considered to be unsafe is 10 parts per million (ppm). Investigations conducted by ADHS have found the following lead contaminated spices:
Blood Lead Level (BLL)
|16 µ g/dL||Turmeric||Brought into the US from India by parents||690 ppm|
|Sibling 1: 23 µ g/dL
Sibling 2: 11 µ g/dL
|Turmeric||Brought into the US from Bangladesh by parents||770 ppm|
|Coriander||Purchased locally in Asian imports store||17 ppm|
|15 µ g/dL||Black Pepper Powder||Purchased locally in Asian imports store||24 ppm|
|Turmeric||Purchased locally in Asian imports store||610 ppm|
|Sibling 1: 3 µ g/dL*
Sibling 2: 5 µ g/dL
|Thyme||Brought into the US from Lebanon by parents||890 ppm|
* Although these siblings did not meet our case definition criteria of 10 µ g/dL, we conducted an investigation for several reasons: their BLLs had increased from the previous year, we didn't want to take a chance that they would continue to rise, and the parents had EBLLs of 16 and 20 µ g/dL.