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Alameda County, CA,

Larry Brooks
Healthy Homes Department
Including the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

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Possible Sources of Lead

Home Remedies

Caution: Home remedies and medicines can help cure sick people. However, some of these home remedies contain lead and will make you very sick.


Azarcon and Greta

Azarcon: a bright orange powder, also known as Rueda, Coral, Maria Luisa, Alarcon,Liga

Greta: a yellow powder

Both Azarcon and Greta are given for "empacho" (intestinal illness).

Both Azarcon and Greta are almost 100% lead.  Any amount is poisonous to children and adults.

Why is lead dangerous?

Lead poisoning can cause damage to the kidneys, nervous system, and brain. Children have suffered permanent brain damage and even died from the use of Azarcon and Greta.

Children with lead poisoning usually do not look or act sick. When they do show signs of lead poisoning, their symptoms can be very much like empacho. The symptoms of lead poisoning include tiredness, sleeplessness, stomachache, and vomiting.

picture showing a child drinking

What can I do if I've taken or have given my child a home remedy that contains lead?

You should get medical attention immediately. Call you doctor, clinic, or local health department for more information or for help with treatment for lead poisoning. Ask your health department to arrange for a free test to determine if there is lead in your Azarcon or Greta. Medical information is confidential. Your health is the main concern.

You can also call the Poison Control telephone hotline in your area. Look for their number in the front of the white pages in your phone book. Someone is available 24 hours/day to answer your questions and help in an emergency.

Testing Your Children

Children ages 9 months through 6 years are at greatest risk for lead poisoning. Most children with lead poisoning don't look or act sick. Ask your doctor to do a blood lead test, and to explain the results to you. This test is the only sure way to know if your child is being poisoned. Most kids will have a blood lead level of less than 10 ug/dL(micrograms per deciliter).

If you have Medi-Cal, your regular doctor or clinic can order the blood tests to check for lead poisoning, if appropriate. Many private health insurance policies will also cover the cost of the test whether or not your family has insurance.   Your children may qualify for free health examinations through your local Child Health and Disability Prevention (CHDP) program. To find out if you child is eligible for CHDP testing, call (510) 628-7910 in the Northern California area.  All other areas should contact your local health department.

Danger!! These home remedies also contain lead and can make you very sick.

Hmong community:
  Pay-loo-ah a red powder given for rash of fever

Asian Indian community:
  Ghasard a brown powder given as an aid to digestion

  Bala Goli a round, flat, black bean dissolved in "gripe water" and used for stomachache

  Kandu a red powder used to treat stomachache

Arab American community:
  Kohl (Alkohl) a powder used both as a cosmetic eye make-up and applied to skin infections and the navel of a newborn child.

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