Blood lead testing
The only way to tell if a person is lead poisoned is by a blood lead test. A blood lead test measures the amount of lead in a person’s blood. During a blood lead test, a few drops of blood are obtained from the finger or the arm and analyzed to see how much lead is in the body.
A blood lead test can show how much lead a person has been exposed to within about a thirty day period. A blood lead test can not give information about how much lead a person was exposed to years ago. Healthcare providers can make recommendations based on the results of the blood lead test.
The Lead Poisoning Prevention Program provides the following recommendations regarding blood lead testing:
- All children six years old and under should have a blood lead test every year beginning at six months of age.
- All pregnant women should have a blood lead test at least once during pregnancy.
- Any newborn whose mother had a blood lead test result of 4ug/dl or greater should receive a blood lead test as soon as possible after delivery.
- All children who have a blood lead level of 10 mcg./dl and above should have a blood lead test every three months until their blood lead level is below 10mcg./dl for six months.
- All children four years old and under with a blood lead test result of 4ug/dl. or more should be retested in three months.
- All children who have a developmental delay that causes persistent hand to mouth behavior should have a blood lead test yearly.
- All refugee children sixteen years of age and under should have a blood lead test at least once upon entry into the United States.
- All children who are adopted from outside of the United States should have at least one blood lead test.
- Any child who has a sibling with lead poisoning should receive a blood lead test.
- All children who enter into foster care should receive a blood lead test if they have not previously been tested.
Screening Tools- Some healthcare providers use a questionnaire to determine if a person is at risk for lead poisoning. The provider may or may not perform a blood lead test based on the results of the questionnaire. For questions regarding this practice, consult your healthcare provider.
If you are having trouble loading, navigating or reading this page, or would like to make some suggestions, please email us.