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Child Care Resources

Preventing Exposure to Lead

The harmful impact of lead exposure is well known and documented. There is no safe blood lead level for people. Lead is especially harmful to young children and pregnant women because of the impact on growth and brain development. Lead in water is most harmful to formula-fed infants. The most important step adults can take is to prevent lead exposure before it occurs.

The Early Learning Council approved new requirements for child care providers to prevent children in their care from being exposed to lead. All state-regulated child care providers must begin testing for lead in their drinking water and sending test results to the Office of Child Care. If the test results come in at or higher than “15 parts per billion (ppb),” the provider must make changes to prevent lead exposure. Providers have until September 30, 2018 to complete testing, submit the results to the Office of Child Care, and put in place any necessary changes.

Testing Resources

Open PDF with list of ORELAP labs for lead testing

Contact your local water provider for possible lead testing resources.

Questions about lead testing in child care? Contact the Office of Child Care:

Office of Child Care Lead Hotline
503-947-5908.

Corrective Actions

If the test results show a lead level that is at or higher than 15 parts per billion (ppb), the provider must:

  1. Immediately prevent children from using or consuming the water by removing access to the faucet and supply bottled water for drinking, cooking, and preparing infant formula.
  2. Submit a plan of action within 60 days of receiving the results to the Office of Child Care to address the lead levels in the faucets or fixtures testing at or higher than 15 parts per billion. The plan must be consistent with the “S. Environmental Protection Agency 3T’s for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools.” The Office of Child Care will provide more information soon about acceptable options for reducing lead levels.
  3. Retest the water after making changes or continue to use bottled water only.

Providers must also reduce children’s exposure to lead regardless of results by running faucets 30 seconds to two minutes before using water for drinking, cooking or preparing formula.

Lead Basics Resources

The most prevalent lead hazards in child care facilities are lead-based paint, lead dust and contaminated soil. Renovation, repair and maintenance of older homes and buildings, if not performed correctly, can create hazardous lead dust and debris by disturbing lead-based paint.

Questions about lead? The Multnomah County Health Department LeadLine is a state-wide resource for all Oregonians that provides lead prevention information and referral.

Contact the LeadLine
503-988-4000
1-800-368-5060
leadline@multco.us

EPA’s introduction to the 3Ts for schools and child care facilities.
Introducing the 3Ts for reducing lead in drinking Water in schools and child care facilities (PDF)

Eco-Healthy Child Care FAQ on lead in drinking water.
FAQs: Lead in Tap Water (PDF)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) fact sheet with general lead poisoning prevention information.
Know the Facts (PDF) en español (PDF)

CDC’s fact sheet with lead poisoning prevention information for pregnant women.
Are You Pregnant? (PDF) en español (PDF)

Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) comprehensive guide for anyone concerned about the dangers of lead in their home and environment. Learn how to protect your family from lead poisoning.
Lead in Your Home: A Parent’s Reference Guide (PDF)

Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) brochure with information on the health effects of lead exposure, sources of lead and determine if your child is at risk for lead poisoning.
Lead Poisons Kids (PDF) en español (PDF) bằng tiếng Việt (PDF)

OHA’s guide on how to provide a lead-safe child care environment.
Protecting Kids: A Child Care Provider’s Guide (PDF)

 Lead Testing for Young Children

A blood test is the only way to find out if a child has been exposed to lead. Signs of lead exposure or poisoning are not always easy to see. Many children who have lead poisoning look and act healthy. Because of this, lead poisoning may go unrecognized.

Children can get lead in their bodies by swallowing or breathing in dust that contains lead. Lead is a poison that affects every organ and system in the body. There is no function or need for lead. Very high levels of lead exposure can cause coma, seizures and death. Even a little lead can make children slower learners. Exposure to lead can cause:

  • Brain damage and lower intelligence
  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Impaired speech and language
  • Slowed growth
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Hearing damage

Ask Your Health Care Provider

Your health care provider will ask you some questions to see if your child is at risk for lead poisoning. The only way to know for sure if your child has been exposed to lead is to have their blood tested. Blood tests are used to find out how much lead is in a child’s blood. The test is simple. In most cases just a finger prick then analysis is done.

Find Free Lead Screening Clinics in Multnomah County

Free blood lead level screening for children under 6 and pregnant women can be found at the Multnomah County’s Test Your Child for Lead page.

Lead Screening for Children Resources

CDC’s fact sheet with an update on blood lead levels in children.
Blood Lead Levels in Children (PDF)

OHA’s informational one-pager on blood lead test results for children and how to protect children from exposure to lead.
Understanding Your Child’s Lead Test (PDF)