Lead Poisoning and Nutrition

Dangers of Lead Poisoning:

Lead poisoning occurs when there is too much lead in the body, which is very harmful to children under 6 years old and pregnant women. Even small amounts of lead can cause problems. People with lead poisoning may not act or look sick. Lead Poisoning Can Lead To:

  • Stomachaches
  • Headaches
  • Lower Appetite
  • Hyperactivity and/or irritability
  • Sleeping Problems
  • Kidney Damage
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Lead can be found in lead-based paint, dust, drinking water from lead water pipes, dirt, toys, and storing food in dishes that are lead-glazed. Homes built before 1978 may contain lead paint.

What to Do if You Think Your Home Has High Levels of Lead:

Contact your health care provider or physician, your local health department, or the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Illinois Lead Program at 217-782-3517, 866-909-3572, or TTY 800-547-0466. They can give you information on getting your home tested for lead and removing lead safely. Your health care provider or physician can talk with you about blood tests for lead.

How a Healthy Diet Can Reduce Your Risk:

Eating healthy foods more often can be helpful. Children with full stomachs absorb less lead into their bodies than children with empty stomachs. Foods rich in calcium, iron, and vitamin C may help reduce lead in the body. Calcium and iron help block lead from being absorbed by the body. Vitamin C can help the body absorb iron better when eaten together (for example, drinking a glass of orange juice at breakfast when also eating an iron-fortified cereal).

  • Sources of Calcium: Low-fat milk and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, dark leafy greens such as spinach, and calcium-fortified orange juice.
  • Sources of Iron: Red meat, poultry, fish, beans, iron-fortified cereals and breads, nuts, and peanut butter.
  • Sources of Vitamin C: Oranges, green and red bell peppers, tomatoes, and fortified juices.
  • For More Information:

    In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, disability, age, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

    To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

    (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

    (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or

    (3) email: program.intake@usda.gov.

    This institution is an equal opportunity provider. This material was funded by the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program . Phone: (217) 333-5462 – SNAP