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Environmental health Investigations branch

Environmental Health Investigations Branch
HealthyHome-Horizontal-Color-Lg-CROPPEDPreventing contact with harmful substances

About preventing contact with mold, toxic metals, and other harmful substances

People can come into contact with harmful substances in their homes and communities, such as toxic metals and mold. Toxic metals can be found in soil, old paint, and some beauty products. They can poison people and make them very sick. Our Healthy Homes and Communities project works with local organizations to inform and educate Californians about toxic metals and mold.

We are committed to protecting people from exposure to harmful substances - from mercury in imported skin creams, to lead in garden soil or cosmetics, to mold from leaks and other dampness in the home.

Educational materials and resources

Substandard housing, mold, asthma, and pests

The condition and location of housing affects the health of the people who live inside. A healthy home is a structure that is free from the following substandard housing conditions, as defined in the California Health & Safety Code (Section 17920.3):
  • Moisture and mold that can cause or worsen illness or damage personal belongings;
  • Pests that can cause illness or are a nuisance;
  • Unsafe conditions and poorly maintained plumbing, heating and other systems that can lead to injuries and other problems;
  • Unventilated areas that can increase indoor pollutant levels.
It is the owner or landlord's responsibility to fix substandard housing conditions. Many of these problems can be avoided or improved with proper home upkeep and free- or low-cost solutions. Renters may ask local city or county code enforcement agencies for help if landlords do not repair or remediate these conditions in a timely way once they have been informed.

Mold in the Home Video Series (visit cdph.ca.gov/mold for more)
This short, animated, six-part video series in English and Spanish answers frequently asked questions about mold in the home. Below is Video 1 in English and Spanish.
  • California Tenants: A Guide to Residential Tenants' and Landlord Rights and Responsibilities (PDF) - California Department of Consumer Affairs
  • Dampness, Mold, and Asthma (PDF) - English and Spanish
  • Household Cleaning and Asthma (PDF) - English and Spanish
  • Household Pests and Asthma (PDF) - English and Spanish
  • The Overlapping Issues of Health and Housing: A Report on California Statewide Data and Healthy Housing Indicators (PDF) – CDPH

Lead in surma (kohl) and ayurvedic products

Immigrant children have been poisoned by lead from use of lead-containing imported eye makeup.

Childhood Lead Poisoning from Imported Eye Makeup in Seven Languages - Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) Factsheets

Adults and children have been poisoned by lead and other harmful metals from use of harmful-metal-containing ayurvedic remedies.

Mercury in skin creams

Adults and children have been poisoned by mercury and other harmful metals from use of imported skin creams containing mercury.

EHIB's work to prevent contact with harmful substances

Contact our Healthy Homes and Communities project at AskEHIB@cdph.ca.gov or call our helpline, (510) 981-4354, if you have a group of community health workers or educators wanting to learn in English or Spanish how to train others to protect themselves from mold, toxic metals, or other harmful substances in the environment. We can also bring equipment to test certain beauty products and soil for lead or mercury.

Related CDPH web pages

Related CDPH Programs

Resources Outside of CDPH

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