Lead is a toxic metal used in a variety of products and materials found in your home, including: Paint and/or dust in older homes, soil that contains traces of lead, water that runs through lead pipes, some toys and jewelry, some makeup products, and certain jobs and hobbies can involve working with lead-based products and may cause parents to bring lead into the home.
Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child���s health. Exposure to lead can cause:
Damage to the brain and nervous system
Slowed growth and development
Learning and behavior problems
Hearing and speech problems
These health problems can impact children long term. These health problems can cause:
Decreased ability to pay attention
Poor performance in school
Children under the age of 6 are most at risk because they are growing so rapidly. Younger children tend to put their hands and other objects in their mouth which can be contaminated with lead dust. Lead dust can be invisible to the naked eye.
The good news: Lead poisoning is 100% preventable!
Most children with elevated lead levels have no symptoms.
That is why testing is so important! Talk with your child’s doctor about a simple blood lead test. Testing is the only way to know if your child has elevated blood lead levels. This test may be completed by a simple finger stick blood test. If the finger stick shows that your child has high lead in their blood, then your child will be referred for a blood draw.
Your child should be tested:
Between 9 and 11 months of age and
Again at 24 months of age (2 years old)
This test can be completed as part of their regular well child visits to your child’s provider at these ages. Testing is the only way to know if your child has been exposed to lead.
You can still get a lead test done.
Two lead tests should be completed by the age of 2. However, children can be tested even after the age of 2. Children under the age of 6 are at risk.
If a child is not tested at their 2 year visit, the child should be tested as soon as possible after their 2 year visit, but before they turn 6 or enter into Kindergarten (in Allegheny County), whichever is sooner.
A lead test can be conducted in 2 different ways.
Capillary (ka · puh · leh · ree) blood sample testing – A small lancet (needle) is used to puncture the skin. This can be done on the foot or the finger. A small amount of blood will be collected in a tube.
Venous (vee · nuhs) blood sample testing – A needle is used to collect blood into an attached tube from a vein in the arm. This is the most accurate way to measure lead levels in the blood.
Care Navigators from Gateway Health may reach out to you to assist with coordinating follow up care after a positive lead test once we receive your child’s lead test result. If you are concerned about your child’s lead test result and we have not reached out to you yet, please feel free to contact the Care Navigator Team in the Special Needs Unit at 1-800-392-1147.
Depending on your child’s lead level, your physician may recommend an Environmental Lead Investigation. An Environmental Lead Investigation includes an investigation of your home including all painted surfaces, water samples, dust samples, and bare soil samples.
Gateway will cover one Environmental Lead Investigation per household per address.
- Clean windowsills and floors regularly with a damp paper towel and throw the towel away.
- Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or painted chewable surfaces.
- Let water run for a few minutes before using or consuming it, especially if you might have lead pipes.
- Wash your child’s hands, face and toys regularly.
- Remove your shoes before entering the house to avoid bringing in possibly contaminated soil.
- Have peeling paint removed from your home by a licensed lead abatement contractor.