Polk County Health Department

What are the health effects of Lead Poisoning?

What are the health effects of Lead Poisoning?
  • Lead poisoning can cause life-long health problems with learning, behavior, speech, and hearing as well as many others. Children with very high lead poisoning levels may have irreversible brain damage or even die.

  • The effects of lead poisoning can last a lifetime.

  • If a family cannot afford a blood lead test, the Iowa Department of Public Health will pay for the analysis at the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory. Please call the Polk County Health Department to find out how you can use this program.
How do I Prevent Lead Poisoning?
  • Maintain your home -
    • "Don't Spread Lead" video with Norm Abram give you tips on how do small repairs or renovations to your home safely (2 parts). Video 1 Video 2
  • Wash hands - wash children’s hands often, before meals, after playing outside or on the floor, and before naps.

  • Eat well - eat foods that are high in iron and calcium, and low in fat. This will help keep the lead out of your body.

  • Don’t bring lead home - if you work with lead, take a shower and change your clothes before coming home.
Protecting your family from Lead-based paint hazards:
  • If you find hazards in your home:
    • Do not panic!
    • If you rent, tell your landlord about the hazards that you find.

  • Do not sand, scrape, or remove any paint, walls, windows, or plaster until you know how to do it safely.
    • Call Polk County Health Department at (515) 286-2221 to find out how to do this work safely.

  • Have all children under the age of 6 years tested for lead poisoning.

  • Supervise your children very carefully. Keep them away from areas where there is peeling and chipping paint.

  • Do not allow children to chew on painted surfaces such as window sills, stair rails, furniture, or toys.

  • Do not allow children to put paint chips or soil in their mouths.

  • Weekly clean floors, baseboards, and window sills where small children play. Wash woodwork and painted surfaces with warm water and a general, all-purpose cleaner. Remember: Never mix ammonia and bleach together since they form a dangerous gas.

  • Wash toys, pacifiers, and bottles that children drop on the floor.

  • Wash children’s hands often, especially before they eat.

  • Pick up paint chips that you see on the floor, inside windows, or in other places where your children play. Put the paint chips in a garbage bag and dispose of them in the landfill with your regular garbage.

  • Do not let children play outside in areas where there are paint chips on the ground. Pick up as many of the paint chips as you can. Cover the soil in these areas by seeding grass, laying sod, planting some shrubs, or covering with rock or mulch.

  • Serve your child at least 3 meals a day.
    • Nutrition:
      • Serve your child healthy snacks
        • Muffins
        • Yogurt
        • Broccoli
        • Zucchini
        • Celery sticks
        • Apple slices
        • Melon cubes
        • Orange sections
        • Carrot sticks
        • Cottage cheese
        • Cheese cubes
        • Saltine crackers
        • Graham crackers
        • Dry oat cereal rings
      • Serve your child foods that are high in Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps the body absorb more iron.
        • Orange
        • Orange juice
        • Grapefruit
        • Cantaloupe
        • Strawberries
        • Peppers (green, red, chili)
        • Broccoli
        • Tomato
        • Potatoes
      • Serve your child foods that are high in calcium and iron. Iron helps stop the lead from being absorbed into the body.
        • Chicken
        • Beef
        • Fish
        • Pork
        • Greens
        • Oatmeal
        • Cornmeal
        • Soybeans
        • Brown rice
        • Dried beans
        • Prune juice
        • Dried apricots
        • Enriched bread
        • Iron-fortified cereal
        • Liver
        • Kidney
        • Turkey
        • Oysters
        • Raisins
        • Lentils
        • Spinach
        • Broccoli
        • Sardines
        • Dried peas
        • Dried peaches
        • Oat or wheat bran
        • Whole wheat bread
      • Calcium also helps prevent lead from being absorbed into the body.
        • Milk
        • Cheese
        • Yogurt
        • Pudding
        • Ice cream
        • Cottage cheese
        • Calcium-fortified orange juice
        • Sardines with bones
        • Salmon with bones
        • Tofu (form, fortified)
        • Fortified soy milk
        • Mustard greens
        • Collard greens
        • Broccoli greens
        • Sesame seeds

  • All Iowa children under the age of 6 years should be tested regularly for lead poisoning.

  • Anything that produces lead dust or fumes can cause lead poisoning.

  • In Iowa homes, most interior and exterior wood surfaces that were painted before 1960 have lead-based paint on them.

Contact Us

Phone: (515)-286-3798
Fax: (515)-286-2033
Toll free: 866-209-1300

Address: 1907, Carpenter Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50314