Lead and health

pediatrician with child

Lead is a type of metal that is found naturally on Earth. Lead is in all parts of our environment -- the air, the soil, and our homes.

While it has some beneficial uses, lead is toxic to humans. It can get into our bodies when we breathe in or swallow something that has lead in it or on it.

There is no safe level of lead for human health. It can affect almost every organ and system, but the main concern is the nervous system. Children under age 3 and pregnant people are at the highest risk of health impacts from lead.

The good news? Lead poisoning is preventable.   

Lead exposure is hard to detect. Signs and symptoms don't appear until dangerous amounts have accumulated in the body.

Some children need a simple blood test to find out if they have too much lead in their bodies. Does your child need to be tested?  Fill out this checklist to find out. 

You also may want to test your home.

More information

We rely on local public health agencies to ensure children with confirmed elevated blood lead levels are linked to appropriate follow-up services. We encourage local public health agencies to educate their communities about the risk of lead poisoning and promote blood lead screenings in high-risk areas.

Resources

HEALTH ADVISORY July 9, 2021: Recall of LeadCare® blood lead tests due to risk of falsely low results

Blood lead levels and case management

Identifying focus areas

Use this tool to identify target areas to increase blood lead testing for children under 6 years old.

Investigations 

Use this questionnaire when conducting environmental investigations in your area

Use this form when reporting your environmental lead results to CDPHE

 

HEALTH ADVISORY July 9, 2021: Recall of LeadCare® blood lead tests due to risk of falsely low results

Lead testing and case management for children 18 and under

Colorado recommends targeted blood lead testing based on responses to a risk-based questionnaire. If the questionnaire indicates a high risk for lead poisoning, children should be tested at 12 months and 24 months of age, using either a capillary or venous blood specimen.

Testing resources for health care providers

Case management

Colorado follows CDC guidance on case management for lead.

Reporting

Under the state’s reporting law, all providers and laboratories performing blood lead tests are required to report test results to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Over age 18: Report elevated tests.

  • Report blood lead levels equal to or greater than 5 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dL) within 30 days of the result.

18 and under: Report all tests.

  • Report blood lead levels equal to or greater than 5μg/dL within 7 days of the result.
  • Report blood lead levels less than 5 μg/dL within 30 days of the result.

How to report lead test results

For providers using LeadCare II machines For providers without LeadCare II machines For laboratories
  • Make sure you are set up for Electronic Lab Reporting by contacting Contact CDPHE's Electronic Laboratory Reporting Coordinator to ensure you are set up for Electronic Lab Reporting.  Andrew.Horvath@state.co.us or 303-692-2025

 

 

    The state collects and analyzes data on elevated blood lead levels in children 18 and under in order to:

    • Trigger follow-up investigation, care, and treatment to reduce lead poisoning.
    • Track temporal and spatial trends in the incidence and prevalence of childhood lead poisoning. 

    The state collects and analyzes data on elevated blood lead levels in children ages 16 and over and adults in order to:

    • Determine the number of workers in Colorado who may be lead poisoned, what industries they work in, where they live and work, and whether they are potentially exposing their families to lead.
    • Track trends in the incidence and prevalence of occupational lead poisoning, share information with the public, health care providers, public health professionals and labor and industry stakeholders.
    • Identify and follow up on elevated blood lead reports to reduce lead poisoning in workers. 

    Lead poisoning data

    The Colorado Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is working on lead exposure at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Our program focuses on two priority areas related to lead testing:

    • Identifying children who are at risk for lead poisoning and ensuring those children are tested. 
    • Responding to elevated blood test results to ensure children are receiving appropriate follow-up care. 

    Much of our work involves getting accurate and timely information to parents, local public health agencies, and providers. Additionally, our program actively participates in the Colorado Lead Coalition which addresses lead poisoning-related issues in Colorado. 

     

    Contact

    For questions about lead poisoning: ToxCall, (303) 692-2606  or  cdphe_toxcall@state.co.us

    For lead testing and reporting questions: cdphe_leadreports@state.co.us