Childhood Lead Poisoning

Because of hazards like older housing, lead paint on toys, and lead in soil, lead poisoning continues to be a public health problem affecting nearly half a million U.S. children from one to five years of age (CDC, 2014). Approximately 60% of homes in Chester County were built before 1978, the year that lead-based paint was officially banned from use by the general public. There are generally between 15 – 20 known cases of childhood lead poisoning in Chester County each year. Because many children in Chester County have never been tested, there are probably more.

Even small amounts of lead can be harmful and have been linked to aggressive and anti-social behavior, learning and developmental problems, ADHD, juvenile delinquency, stunted growth and even Alzheimer's. The effects of lead poisoning can last a lifetime. Signs of lead poisoning may include irritable moods, aggressive behavior, learning difficulties, fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, or constipation. However, signs of lead poisoning are not always obvious. The only way to be sure that a child has been exposed to lead is to have them tested. Testing is a finger-stick blood test that will detect if there is a harmful level of lead in a child's blood.

Although lead can be found in many sources, lead exposure is preventable by reducing and eliminating the lead source within a child's environment.

The Chester County Health Department offers the following lead-related services:
  • Free blood lead testing for children under 6 years of age
  • Case management services for children that have been identified as having an elevated blood lead level
  • Referral testing and medical treatment
  • Investigation of lead hazards in the homes of lead-poisoned children
  • Education on reducing lead-poisoning exposure
For more information, or to schedule an appointment for your child to be tested for lead, call 610-344-6252.