If you’ve caught the news lately, you’ve probably seen reports of lead poisoning in other states linked to contaminated drinking water. Lead poisoning is a serious health concern – especially in children. Lead poisoning can damage children’s intelligence, behavior, hearing, or growth, and the only way to detect the condition is through blood testing.

Last year in Arizona, over 400 children were identified with lead poisoning. In our state, the most common sources of lead are not water, but instead lead-based paint in house built before 1978, imported spices, imported glazed pottery, home remedies (like greta or azarcon), lead-contaminated soil or dust tracked into the home, hobbies (like hunting or fishing with leaded bullets or fish sinkers), and work in lead-related industries (like construction, mining, welding, and plumbing).

Our Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is dedicated to preventing lead poisoning and providing education to families of children with elevated blood lead levels. To achieve these goals, it has developed a risk-based formula to identify zip codes in Arizona where children are most likely to experience lead poisoning. These zip codes take into consideration the historical number of children with lead poisoning, the percent of the population under age 5, the percent of the population identified as Hispanic/Latino or who speak only Spanish, the percent of low income families, the percent of homes built before 1980, and the percent of people who work in a lead-related industry. Detailed information about each of these factors and how they may be associated with lead poisoning risk is available in the targeted screening plan. All children living in a targeted zip code should visit their healthcare provider for lead screening at 12 and 24 months of age.

If you’re interested in learning more about lead poisoning prevention, sources of lead, and lead poisoning prevention in Arizona, our website has bilingual resources for parents, recommendations and information for healthcare providers,   and a questionnaire for parents to help determine whether their child has been exposed to lead.