Northern Kentucky Health Department
Lead Poisoning Investigation and
Department plays a unique role in the community in preventing childhood lead
poisoning, and in responding to it when it does happen. The Health Department
provides care, promotes prevention and serves as a regulatory agency. So, Health
Department staff respond to childhood lead poisoning on several levels.
One out of every 11 children in the United States has an elevated blood lead level. In Kentucky, 4,200 children may be affected by lead poisoning.
Department’s county health centers provide
free or low-cost lead screening for children 6 and under. A Health Department
nurse works to manage the cases of any children found to have high blood lead
Staff from the Health Department conducts investigations
causes when a child is found to have high blood lead levels.
outreach activities provide information through Web pages, pamphlets, brochures,
health fairs and collaboration with community groups and state and federal
more information on lead, you can read a list of
frequently asked questions, a list of lead
poisoning do's and don'ts, or you can call the Health Department at
Every child should be tested for lead poisoning at ages 9 to 12 months and again at age 24 months. Children with a higher risk should be tested more frequently. The lead screening consists of a finger stick.
If a child
has an elevated level of lead, between 10 and 15 ug/dl (micrograms per deciliter), the Health Department offers a home visit by a registered nurse to provide education on ways to reduce the risks of lead exposure,
including potential sources of lead poisoning, signs and symptoms, effects on the body, nutrition, proper cleaning methods and importance of good hand washing.
blood lead level testing is also required. If a child has a blood lead level
between 10 and 14
deciliter), a follow-up test must be performed 12 weeks after the initial
screening. If a child has a blood lead level between 15 and 19, a follow-up test
must be performed within one week.
Ask the following questions to determine if your child is at risk for lead poisoning:
Does your child live in or regularly visit a home built before 1978?
Does your home have mini-blinds made before 1996?
Do you live near a heavily traveled highway?
Does your family use pottery or leaded crystal for cooking or eating?
Does a family member work on a farm, in construction areas, on bridges or tunnels, with batteries or aluminum?
Has anyone in the family been treated for lead poisoning?
child is found to have high blood lead levels, environmentalists from the Health
Department conduct an investigation into the causes of the lead poisoning,
typically if a child has a blood lead level of 15 µg/dl
An environmentalist and a nurse
will visit the home to conduct an investigation, including:
factor survey and visual inspection of the inside and outside of the home,
looking for signs of deteriorating lead paint or other sources of lead
including paint chips, dust and soil, may be taken from areas inside and
outside of the house. These samples are sent to a lab for analysis.
Interviewing and educating the parents during the investigation helps point
to possible sources and gives the family resources to help protect the
health of the child while the investigation is proceeding.
A report is
then produced regarding the findings of the investigation. It covers potential
lead exposure sources, laboratory results, action steps and related information.
Depending on the child’s blood lead levels and if lead hazards are found, the
homeowner is recommended or
to have a certified contractor
assess the hazards, develop a plan, have this plan reviewed by the Kentucky
Department for Public Health and properly remove any lead hazards.
Improperly performed abatement work can cause further spreading of
lead-contamination and can actually cause more poisoning of children and
adults. For this reason all lead abatement work is regulated by the state
of Kentucky, and must be done under a permit and inspected.
Lead-Safe Work Practices
Environmental Protection Agency regulations now require that companies doing
remodeling work in buildings containing lead-based paint must be certified in
lead-safe work practices. Painters, plumbers and other craftsmen working in any
building constructed before 1978, when lead paint was banned, must be certified.
The rules cover projects that disturb more than 6 square feet of interior space
or 20 square feet of exterior space.
Find a certified
Education and Outreach
Because so many
homes contain lead paint or other hazards, education of parents and others about
lead is extremely important. Children under age 6 are especially at risk for
lead poisoning because of their nature: they are curious, low to the ground and
place things into their mouths. They can get lead into their blood by breathing
contaminated dust and by putting lead contaminated paint chips, dust or soil
into their mouths.
and hobbies can cause lead poisoning. Working around, sanding or stripping lead
paint, working with lead fishing tackle, lead bullets, batteries, and other
occupations or hobbies where lead is present. Although lead cannot be absorbed
through the skin, any of these activities can generate lead contaminated dust,
and this lead-contaminated dust can poison occupants of the house, especially
children. It only takes a small amount of lead contaminated dust to generate
dangerously high levels of lead.
More information on lead:
Call the Health Department at
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
Environmental Lead Program
CDC Lead Poisoning
EPA: Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil