Protecting children from exposure to lead is important to lifelong good health. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect learning, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. While the effects of lead exposure may be permanent, if caught early there are things parents can do [PDF – 234 KB] to prevent further exposure and reduce damage to their child’s health.
The most important step that parents and caregivers, healthcare providers, and public health professionals can take is to prevent lead exposure before it occurs.
CDC supports primary and secondary lead exposure prevention.
- Primary prevention is the removal of lead hazards from the environment before a child is lead exposed. It is the most effective way to ensure that children do not experience harmful long-term effects of lead exposure.
- Secondary prevention includes blood lead testing and follow-up care and referral. It remains an essential safety net for children who may already be exposed to lead.
A blood test is the best way to determine if a child has been exposed to lead. The amount of lead in blood is referred to as a blood lead level, which is measured in micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dL). Most children with lead in their blood have no obvious symptoms. Talk to your child’s health care provider about getting a blood lead test.
Preventing childhood lead exposure is cost-effective.
According to an analysis from the Health Impact Project, [PDF – 7.5 MB] eliminating lead hazards from the places where children live, learn, and play could generate approximately $84 billion in long-term benefits per birth cohort. Additionally, permanently removing lead hazards from the environment would benefit future birth cohorts, and savings would continue to grow over time. CDC is committed to helping address this threat and improving health outcomes for our nation’s most vulnerable citizens—our children.