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New Testing Guidelines For Lead Poisoning

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A recent article in the Missouri News Horizon bore the news that if you live in an older home built before 1978, chances are paint-containing lead may have been used on or in your home—and if you have young children, you should have them tested for lead.[1][1] Children can be given a blood test to measure the levels of lead in their blood, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the sooner parents do this, the better off their children are. CDC has recently revised its “blood lead level of concern.”[2][2]

Because old and peeling paint often produces paint chips that usually fall on the ground and get into the soil surrounding an older home, CDC now recommends that children who play in such surroundings be tested for lead. Studies have shown that greater than average exposure to lead can result in attention deficit problems, as well as those of reduced IQ and behavioral problems in young children.[3][3]

In January 2012, government advisors and scientists met at the CDC to recommend that CDC revise its “blood lead level of concern” and their recommendations were based on an increased number of scientific studies illustrating that even low blood levels of lead have long-term effects on the health of individuals. The group recommended that CDC base lead levels of concern on data supplied by the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) identifying children living for long periods in environments where there are lead hazards. The new lead level of concern is based on the population of children aged 1-5 years in the U.S. who are in the top 2.5% of children when tested for lead in their blood (or 5 micrograms per deciliter of lead in blood). CDC’s “blood lead level of concern” heretofore has been 10 micrograms per deciliter. [4][4]

The new lower benchmark for blood lead level means that kids who are exposed to greater than average levels of lead will be identified sooner, if tested, and parents, physicians, public health officials and communities will be able earlier to deal with the health and other issues of lead hazards. CDC’s position of long standing is that “the best way to protect children is to prevent lead exposure in the first place.” A sobering fact is that the effects of lead exposure to a child cannot be undone or corrected—so preventing lead exposure—and testing are the only help for it.[5][5]


[1][1] “CDC Issues New Guidelines for Lead Poisoning Tests”, Yokley, Eli, August 14, 2012, Missouri News Horizon, Jefferson City, MO. http://ozarksfirst.com/fulltext?nxd_id=688022

[2][2] Op. Cit.

[3][3] Ibid.

[4][4] “Blood Levels In Children”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/ACCLPP/Lead_Levels_in_Children_Fact_Sheet.pdf

[5][5] Op. Cit.