Lead, Blood Lead Test

This is a test to screen for elevated concentrations of lead in your blood. Lead is a metal that is known to be poisonous. In the past, lead was used in paints, gasoline, and other household products. Lead products can still be found in older housing. Some work settings and hobbies can also expose you to lead. While preventable, lead poisoning remains a public health problem that can cause irreversible damage to the health of children as well as adults.

If untreated, excess lead in the body can do great damage, even if a person has no obvious symptoms or problems. Impaired learning and development among children is a major consequence of lead poisoning. The function of the kidneys may also be greatly reduced and the ability of nerves to conduct messages quickly through the body is a major problem with lead toxicity. Lead also can harm the reproductive organs and cause miscarriages and birth defects.

SAMPLE COLLECTION

Most often, blood is drawn from a vein in the arm. Blood may be collected by fingerstick for infants and children. If test results from a fingerstick are abnormal, usually a venous blood draw is done to confirm the results.

NORMAL FINDINGS

  • Adults: Less than 10-20 mcg/dL (less than 0.5-1 micromol/L)

  • Children: Less than 5 mcg/dL; however, no threshold level has been determined to be safe

Ranges for normal findings may vary among different laboratories and hospitals. You should always check with your doctor after having lab work or other tests done to discuss the meaning of your test results and whether your values are considered within normal limits.

MEANING OF TEST

Your caregiver will go over the test results with you and discuss the importance and meaning of your results, as well as treatment options and the need for additional tests if necessary.

OBTAINING THE TEST RESULTS

It is your responsibility to obtain your test results. Ask the lab or department performing the test when and how you will get your results.