You may not be able to
have the test or the results may not be helpful if your skin is contaminated with lead. Low levels of lead
can be found almost anywhere, including on the skin.
Having low iron levels in your blood may cause an increase in the absorption of lead.
What To Think About
Blood tests for lead should be done by a lab
proper technique. A finger stick or heel stick can
test for lead poisoning but must be done carefully to prevent contamination of
the sample from lead on the skin. Any result of 10 mcg/dL of lead or higher
from a finger or heel stick should be rechecked on a blood sample drawn from a
vein. Some doctors prefer to only test blood drawn from a vein. If the results
are too high, a follow-up blood sample should be taken from a vein to
double-check the results.
Timed urine tests may be done to check the amount of lead in urine and/or to keep track of the amount of lead being removed from your body during treatment (chelation therapy).
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
requires companies to test the blood of employees who work with lead. Results
need to be reported to the local health department if 2 or more blood lead
levels are above 10 mcg/dL. A home inspection is needed to find the source of
the lead. For more information, see OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov.
Other Works Consulted
Committee on Environmental Health, American Academy of
Pediatrics (2005, reaffirmed 2009). Lead exposure in children: Prevention, detection, and
management. Pediatrics, 116: 1036-1046. Also available
Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009).
Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed.
Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer
R. Steven Tharratt, MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology