|At the most common levels of exposure,
the symptoms of childhood lead poisoning can be difficult or impossible
to recognize, making blood lead testing the only way to confirm a child's
For a blood lead test, a small sample of blood is taken from a child,
via a fingerstick or by drawing blood from a vein. The blood sample is
then analyzed by special equipment that determines the amount of lead
in the child's blood. Most health care providers still send the sample
to a laboratory for analysis, so the results will not be available right
away. Some health care providers now have access to a handheld analyzer
that can be used in the clinic or provider's office and can give results
The results of a blood lead test are expressed in micrograms (µg)
of lead per deciliter (dl) of blood. The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) calls 10 µg/dl the "level of concern"
because scientists studying large populations have observed adverse health
trends in groups of childen with blood lead elevations at this level.
In fact, research makes clear that lead affects children's intelligence
and learning at levels far below 10 µg/dl. For children with elevated
blood lead levels, CDC recommends that health professionals inform and
educate a child's family about finding and reducing exposure to lead.
Other actions, such as medical treatment, are necessary for children with
higher blood lead elevations. For more information, visit the CDC's lead