Lead Poisoning - Diagnosis

A medical worker may be able to diagnose lead poisoning based on the described symptoms. The only positive test for the disorder, however, is a blood test. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all children be tested for lead at twelve months of age. A blood test is important because children with lead in their blood may not show any symptoms. CDC also recommends a second blood test at the age of two years. For children known to be at risk, the CDC recommends a blood test at six months. Some states require blood tests for lead at these or other ages.

Children at Risk

Children are regarded as being at risk for lead poisoning if:

  • They live in or regularly visit a house built before 1978 in which chipped or peeling paint is present.
  • They live in or regularly visit a house that was built before 1978 where remodeling is planned or under way.
  • They have a brother or sister, housemate, or playmate who has been diagnosed with lead poisoning.
  • They live with an adult whose job or hobby involves exposure to lead.
  • They live near an active lead smelter (factory), battery-recycling plant, or other industry that releases lead into the environment.

Adults at Risk

Adults whose work or hobbies expose them to lead should also have regular blood tests. These activities include:

  • Working with glazed pottery or stained glass
  • Furniture refinishing
  • Home renovation
  • Target shooting at indoor firing ranges
  • Battery reclamation
  • Precious metal refining
  • Radiator repair
  • Art restorations

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