Lead Poisoning Risk FactorsChildren are most commonly exposed to lead by the ingestion of paint chips or dirt that is contaminated with lead. Prior to 1977, lead was an ingredient of paint, so children living in older homes with chipping paint are most at risk for lead poisoning.
While the incidence of lead poisoning has decreased dramatically, about 4.4% of children in the United States still have an elevated lead level. Take this Lead Poisoning Screening Quiz to see if your child is at risk of lead poisoning, or review the risk factors below.
Children need to be screened for lead poisoning if they have any of the following three risk factors (or if you don't know if your child has these risk factors):
- lives in or often visits a house that was built before 1950.
- lives in or often visits a house that was built before 1978 and has been remodeled in the past 6 months.
- has playmates or friends that have high lead levels.
- living in a zip code where more than 27% of the housing was built before 1950 (check with your local health department to see if you live in a high risk area or enter your zip code on this CDC webpage).
- being a member of a high risk group, including living in poverty, or receiving aid from Medicaid and/or WIC.
- having a child that eats or chews on nonfood things, such as paint chips or dirt
- having family members that work at a place or has a hobby that involves exposure to lead, including radiator repair, welding, and battery manufacture or repair, etc
- living or playing near an area with a smelter, hazardous waste site, place where batteries are manufactured or repaired, house construction site, or a heavily traveled major highway
- living in a home in which the plumbing has lead pipes, lead solder or lead containing holding tanks
- eating foods that are cooked or stored in imported or glazed pottery
- using medicines (especially home of folk remedies) and other products imported from outside the United States, including paylooah, azarcon, ghasard, Bali Goli, Kandu, farouk, bint al zahab, or Lozeena, or cosmetics like surma or kohl
Other tests that can be performed include a complete blood count to look for anemia and basophilic stippling of red blood cells, xrays of the long bones of the legs to look for lead lines, and a urinalysis, serum creatine and BUN to test for kidney damage. An x-ray of the abdomen may also be done to look for recently ingested lead paint or lead weights.