What is a Lead Test?

Learn about lead testing and what the results mean

Every child should be tested at 12 and 24 months or at least once before age 6.

Contents

.

What is a lead test?


A lead test is a simple blood test. A few drops of blood are used to measure how much lead is inside your child’s blood.

There are two ways blood samples are taken:

• Capillary – from the fingertip

• Venous – from the arm

If your child has a blood lead level above 5 ug/dL (micrograms per deciliter) and the capillary test was conducted using blood from your child’s finger, you must have a second test with a venous sample done as soon as you can, but no more than 90 days after the first test.

 . 

When should a child have a lead test?


  • The first test at 12 months of age
  • The second at 24 months of age

OR

  • At least one test before age 6, if not previously tested

 .  

Where can I go to have my child tested?


Testing is simple and can be done by your child’s doctor or at a lab with a referral from your child’s doctor. Your child should be tested at ages 12 months and 24 months.

If your child is under 6 and has not had a lead test, ask your healthcare provider to test your child.

Testing is free for Medicaid and Nevada Check Up beneficiaries and is covered by most private and employer-based insurance companies.

Las Vegas Blood Lead Screening Clinic

Blood lead testing is also available in Las Vegas at the Southern Nevada Health District’s main facility at 280 S. Decatur Blvd on Wednesdays from 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. for children between the ages of 1 and 5 years old.

If you are uninsured, testing is $20. Appointments are not needed. For additional information, call (702) 759-1000 or click here to visit the SNHD website.

 . 

My child had a lead test. What does this blood lead level mean?


Test results are usually given in micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood or µg/dL. This is the concentration of lead in blood, like the amount of raisins in a bowl of cereal. The higher the concentration, or count of raisins, the more concern there is for the child’s health.

There is no “safe” level of lead. While a small amount of lead may be found in most children (under 5 µg/dL) it is important to keep blood levels as low as possible.

A high test result using blood from a fingertip (capillary) should be checked again with a second test using blood taken from a vein (venous). If the second result is still high, you should follow the steps below:

If your child’s blood lead level is

You should

0.0 – 4.9 µg/dL

Even though your child’s blood lead level is low, you can take certain steps to keep your child safe. Learn more about proper nutrition, and what lead sources to look out for and eliminate from your home.

5.0 – 9.9 µg/dL

Your child has a little more lead than most children. Go to all follow-up appointments. Your doctor will need to monitor your child’s lead level. Talk to your doctor about ways to identify and reduce lead.

10.0 – 44.9 µg/dL

Take action.

Your doctor and local health department can help you identify sources of lead and ways to protect your child.

Your child will need to be tested again.

45 µg/dL or higher

Get IMMEDIATE care.

This is considered serious lead poisoning.

Your child may need to undergo chelation therapy

To learn more, click here to download the After The Lead Test: Understanding Your Results brochure.