Lead Poisoning Prevention
Each year, approximately 800 children and 400 adults are newly diagnosed with lead poisoning in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program and county health department officials follow up on cases, inspect homes, and help coordinate repairs with lead hazards. Scientific research indicates that there is no safe level of lead and that there is a need to help children and pregnant women recognize and avoid lead exposure before their level reaches 5ug/dL. If you feel that you or your child may be at risk look to the questions below- if you answered yes to any of them - get a lead test. Lead poisoning is preventable.
- Do you have a child under the age of 6?
- Do you live in a home built before 1978?
- Have you scraped, sanded or repaired any painted surfaces in your home?
- Have you moved from another country or big city in the past year?
- Does your child have a playmate or sibling that has had lead in his or her blood?
The most important step is to prevent lead exposure before it occurs. However, if you have been exposed to lead, there are steps you can take to reduce the hazard. First, if you had a capillary blood lead test (e.g. fingerstick) it is important to get a venous blood lead test to ensure you have an accurate result. If the venous result is above 5 ug/dL, you should examine your surroundings to identify the source of the lead. Local public health can help with this and a list of most common sources are listed on our Common Sources of Lead web page. If your level is above 15 ug/dL a lead risk assessor will come to your home to help find and eliminate the hazards. Levels above 45 ug/dL should receive medical attention and results above 60 ug/dL are considered emergencies and should receive immediate attention.
The MDH lead program addresses this environmental health problem in three ways:
- Primary prevention through educational materials,
- Providing guidance and support to individuals exposed to lead, and
- Providing compliance assistance to contractors and property owners addressing lead issues in residential housing.