Lead Test

This test is done to determine the level of lead in the blood.

This test is done to determine the level of lead in the blood.

A lead test is done to determine the level of lead in the blood.

  • If the lead level is high, urine testing and more blood work may be done to determine if the kidneys or other organs have been damaged.
  • X-rays may also be recommended.

Single, large exposures are not usually the cause of lead poisoning. Small doses over an extended time can cause lead poisoning. It is the total amount of lead that has collected in the body that is important.

  • For adults, blood lead levels higher than 25 micrograms can be a concern. Levels of 30 to 40 micrograms can injure nerves and red blood cells or raise blood pressure.
  • For children, higher than 5 micrograms can be potentially dangerous.

Any body system can be adversely affected by lead.

  • Lead poisoning can lead to kidney failure and gout (a disorder that causes sudden, recurring attacks of painful arthritis).
  • It can also affect red blood cell production, bones and teeth.
  • The effect of lead on the central nervous system may be permanent.
  • Extremely high lead levels may lead to a coma and can be fatal.

Children are more sensitive to the effects of lead than adults, especially those younger than age six. Lead exposure can affect:

  • The brain
  • Growth and physical development
  • Hearing
  • Intelligence and behavior
  • Blood pressure and blood production

Fortunately, the percentage of young children with problematic blood lead levels has dropped dramatically over the last twenty years. In conjunction with state programs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends screening for anyone at increased risk of lead exposure.

  • Lead screening is recommended for adults who have jobs or hobbies that expose them to lead products (i.e., auto repair, construction and work with lead based paints or ceramics).
  • Screening requirements for children vary by state and are related to local conditions. However, lead screening is often done at age one and again at age two.
  • In an adult, the blood sample is taken by placing a needle in a vein in the arm or pricking a finger. In a baby or child, the sample may be taken by pricking a finger or heel.

The costs in this care path do not include the charge to draw blood from a vein (venipuncture). There will only be one charge to draw blood, even if multiple tests are being performed on the samples that are taken.

What should I ask my healthcare provider before having this test?

  • Is there any special preparation for the test? (If so, get clear instructions on what you need to do.)
  • What is the reason for the test? Will the test results change my treatment plan? If not, do I need the test?
  • What do I need to do if my, or my child's, lead level is high?

Source UHC.com

Also known as:

Lead Test
Laboratory Work
Lead Poisoning

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