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Who Is at Risk for Lead Poisoning

Anybody can be at risk, but these groups are at much higher risk:

  • Low income children
    Data show that young children in publicly-assisted programs such as Medi-Cal and WIC are more frequently lead poisoned.
  • Recent immigrants and refugees
    Children who have traveled abroad or have recently arrived in the United States may have been exposed to lead in other countries, including through cultural sources of lead, including:
    • Traditional remedies, such as azarcon and greta
    • Lead-glazed ceramics, such as bean pots
    • Eye products, such as surma and kohl
    • Imported spices and seasonings, such as turmeric and chili powder
    • Food and snacks such as chapulines and some imported candy
  • Children living in older housing with deteriorating lead-based paint
    Lead-based paint is still a major source of childhood lead poisoning.
    "Older housing" means housing built before 1978, the year that residential lead-based paint was significantly reduced. The older the housing, the more likely the paint will have high amounts of lead. Soil may also be contaminated from former use of leaded gasoline or industrial emissions.
  • Children of any income living in older housing that is being renovated, repaired or repainted
    Activities that disturb lead-based paint and create lead dust are very dangerous, especially for young children and pregnant women. They can also harm other adults, including workers and owner-occupants engaged in do-it-yourself projects.
  • Adults who work with lead on the job or in work done at home, and their children
    Jobs that may expose a worker to lead include renovating or painting older properties, auto radiator repair, shooting or working at a firing range, metals salvaging and recycling and others. Workers can bring lead home from the job on their clothes, shoes and in their cars.

There are over 92,000 occupied housing units built before 1960 in Contra Costa. This represents about 24% of all occupied housing¹.

Because Contra Costa has experienced such rapid growth in new housing, the percentage of old housing has declined overall. But older housing is not evenly distributed, and even within a community with many newer homes there are areas where high-risk older housing is more concentrated.

Percentages of Pre-1960 Housing in Selected Contra Costa Cities and Census Tracts*

City Overall Percentage¹ Percentage in Selected Census Tract (CT) in That City²
Antioch 14% 50% (CT 3071.02)
Concord 26% 67% (CT 3300)
El Cerrito 63% 96% (CT 3902)
Kensington CDP 84% 83% (CT 3910)
Lafayette 45% 46% (CT 3480)
Martinez 25% 67% (CT 3170)
Orinda 55% 59% (CT 3540.01)
Pinole 27% 37% (CT 3591.03)
Pittsburg 17% 54% (CT 3100)
Pleasant Hill 30% 64% (CT 3230)
Richmond 45% 83% (CT 3710)
San Pablo 25% 47% (CT 3672)
San Ramon* < 1% 31% (CT 3452.03*)
Walnut Creek 15% 31% (CT 3430.02)

*Census tract includes parts of San Ramon, Alamo and Danville
¹2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (DP04)
²2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (S2504)