Lead in Children

Children in our county continue to be exposed to lead, despite rules and regulations reducing lead in paint and gasoline. These actions lowered the average blood lead level for everyone in the United States. Recently, however,  safe thresholds for lead were lowered because we have learned that even small amounts of lead can result in poor health outcomes. The lower thresholds highlighted the fact that children in our county are still coming into contact with this harmful substance from many other sources.

  1. Health Effects
  2. Sources of Lead
  3. Who Should be Tested?


In children, lead is most damaging when they are six years and younger. Children are growing at a very fast rate - growing bones, developing stronger muscles and creating many connections in their brain. When lead instead of essential nutrients is "available" to the body to make bones, muscle, and brain connections, permanent harm to health can occur. Even at low levels, lead can be harmful and be associated with:

  • Learning disabilities resulting in a decreased intelligence (decreased IQ)
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Behavior issues
  • Nervous system damage
  • Speech and language impairment
  • Decreased muscle growth
  • Decreased bone growth
  • Kidney damage

High levels of lead are life threatening and can cause seizures, unconsciousness, and death.

There is no known blood lead level for children without some level of risk for some of the adverse neurological effects of lead in children.

pregnant women

In pregnant women, there is sufficient evidence that maternal BLL <5 μg/dL is associated with reduced fetal growth or lower birth weight. BLL <10 μg/dL is associated with decreased postnatal growth, and concurrent BLL <10 μg/dL in children is associated with reduced head circumference, height, or other indicators of growth and delayed puberty.

additional resources

Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry - More information on the health effects of lead at different levels.