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Lead Poisoning

What is Lead Poisoning?

Lead poisoning occurs when too much lead is in the body. Lead can be absorbed through the skin by coming into contact with lead contaminated surfaces or breathing in dust particles contaminated with lead. Lead may also be consumed through eating or drinking foods and waters that have become contaminated with lead by surfaces and pipes where they are prepared.

High lead levels can cause brain and kidney damage. Lead can also harm the production of blood cells, the absorption of calcium needed to develop strong bones and teeth, muscle movement, and the work of the nerves and blood vessels.

Three Rivers District Health Department Environmental Staff investigate all reports of high lead levels in children under 18 residing in our four counties.

How do I prevent Lead Poisoning?

  • Know your plumbing. If you live in a house built before 1978, you may want to get your water tested if you are unable to confirm plumbing status.
  • Wash your kids’ hands and toys often, and keep dusty surfaces clean with a wet cloth.
  • Make sure that iron and calcium are included in your diets. Good nutrition can help reduce the amount of lead absorbed if exposed.
  • If you live in an old house and have chipping or peeling paint, it should be addressed and treated as a potential source of lead until confirmed otherwise.


  • Know where your kids play. Keep them away from old barns and farm equipment where lead may be present.

(This list is not intended to be all inclusive. For more details on lead prevention, please click here.) 

How are high lead levels identified?

Children may be screened at their doctor’s office or at their local Health Department.

If elevated levels are found, (typically 15 µg/dl (micrograms per deciliter) or more) education and further investigations are conducted by environmental health personnel in attempts to determine the cause through a risk factor analysis and sampling. Other elevated levels below 15 µg/dl require follow up testing and education. 

Depending on the levels found, the homeowner may be given recommendations or required to utilize a certified contractor to remove the lead hazards.