Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body and is associated with numerous behavioral and learning problems. Research indicates that even low levels of lead in a child’s blood can affect IQ, the ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. Because lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children in at least 4 million U.S. households are exposed to high levels of lead. Deteriorating lead-based paint (dust) is identified as the most probable cause of elevated blood levels in people in the vast majority of environmental assessments conducted by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). A list of other potential sources of lead exposure and additional lead information is available on the ODH website.
Talk with your healthcare provider about whether your child should receive a blood lead test. Children should receive a blood lead test at ages 1 and 2, or up to age 6 if no previous test has been done, based on the following criteria:
- If the child is on Medicaid, he/she must be tested according to Ohio law and Medicaid rules.
- If the child resides in a high-risk ZIP Code, he/she must be tested according to Ohio law. An overview of Ohio’s blood lead testing requirements for children younger than age 6 and a list of high-risk ZIP Codes are available here.
- If the parent(s) responds “yes” or the answer is unknown to one or more of the questions below, the child must be tested:
- Does the child live in or regularly visit a residential unit, child care facility, or school built before 1950?
- Does the child live in or regularly visit a residential unit, child care facility, or school built before 1978 that has deteriorated paint?
- Does the child live in or regularly visit a residential unit built before 1978 with recent, ongoing, or planned renovation/remodeling?
- Does the child have a sibling or playmate that has or did have lead poisoning?
- Does the child come in frequent contact with an adult who has a lead-related hobby, or occupation?
- Does the child live near an active/former lead smelter, battery recycling plant, or other industry known to generate airborne lead dust?