Lead pollution exists in the world around us. Most people have some amount of lead that they are exposed to on a daily basis. Some people, due to their living situations, occupations or hobbies, have more exposure than others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) leads lead exposure to at risk if it is above 25 μg / dL in an adult and 10 μg / dL in a child.

What is a lead test like?

The lead test is performed at a doctor's office and consist of a drawing of blood from the arm. This blood is sent to a lab for the results. Either you will call the doctor's office for your results or a nurse or your doctor will call you with your results. The person giving the results will either say that you are “positive” or “negative” for lead poisoning.

When should my child get tested?

In 1991 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that all US children have their blood lead concentration measured at around 1 and 2 years. This is because these are the years when the lead concentrations increase and peak. Later, when lead levels fell nationwide, they changed the recommendation to have only children who are “at risk of elevated levels” to be tested.

Who is at risk?

As previously stated, lead exposure is ubiquitous but those who are at risk of high exposure are people living in older housing, that contains lead paint or in dirt around houses that contain deteriorated lead lead painting. Also, exposure to lead soldering in pipes in older plumbing can cause exposure. Additionally, some ceramics that contain lead can leach the lead into food that has been stored in these containers. Finally, lead can be present in the paint used in toys that are imported into the US.

Get your numbers.

It is very important to get the actual numbers of your lead exposure. Although under 10 μg / dL in a child is considered testing, “negative”, numbers approaching 10 μg / dL can cause significant IQ deficits. You will most likely need to ask the doctor what the actual numbers are for the lead exposure.

What happens if my child tests “positive” for lead exposure?

Firstly, the source of the contamination will need to be discovered and eliminated. After this is done, your child will require period retesting to verify that the lead levels in his or her blood has gone down until it is in a safe range. Once it is in a safe range, periodic testing is recommended to ensure stability of the lead levels.

Before becoming pregnant.

It is common knowledge that lead testing in toddlers is an important thing to do in order to prevent cognitive delays and neurological difficulties. It is less commonly known that lead can pass from a mother to an unborn child. If you are thinking of becoming pregnant and working in an industry that exposes you to lead, you should consider getting a leading screening test before becoming pregnant.

In summary, lead poisoning can be a serious thing for both children and adults. Keeping mindful of the sources of potential contamination can help as can period screening for lead levels in the body. The lead test is a minor test, requiring only a little bit of blood to ensure that you and your family are safe.