Two San Joaquin County zip codes have higher than average lead levels in children

Two San Joaquin County zip codes have children under six years old with lead levels higher than the state average, according to recently released state public health data.

In 2012, Lodi's 95240 zip code and Stockton's 95205 zip code saw more children test for elevated lead levels. 

Of the 785 children tested in 95240, 25 -- about 3.18 percent -- had lead levels greater than or equal to 4.5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. 

In 95205, of the 1,094 children tested, 29 -- about 2.65 percent -- had lead levels greater than or equal to 4.5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. 

4.5 is the state's benchmark for elevated lead levels, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has it at five micrograms. 

Statewide, on average, 1.9 percent of children tested have elevated lead levels. 

While the numbers are a few years old, Gale Heinrich, a coordinator with San Joaquin County's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, said even a lead level less than 4.5 could be dangerous.

"There is no safe level of lead," Heinrich said. "You could get lead poisoning from a level of 3."

Children under six years old are required to be tested for lead in their system if they participate in federally-funded programs such as Medi-Cal or WIC. 

The county sends educational materials to children who test for elevated lead levels and they could even be subject to an in-home visit from an outreach worker if the lead levels remain high. 

And while the federal government banned the consumer use of lead-based paint in 1978, Heinrich cautions that children could be exposed to lead through other means, even visiting grandma's house.

Children visiting a home built before 1978 could be exposed to lead-based paint.

Lead exposure is also possible with burning incense, crawling on the floor outside and the eye makeup known as surma. 

Heinrich recommends that children wash their face and hands.


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