Skip directly to searchSkip directly to the site navigationSkip directly to the page's main content

Blood Lead

Resources and Information for:
If you have additional questions about lead exposure, please contact Mark Jones at or call (801)-538-6191.
Lead is a naturally-occurring, bluish-gray metal found in small amounts in the earth's crust. Lead can be found in all parts of our environment. Much of it comes from human activities including burning fossil fuels, mining, and manufacturing. Lead has many different uses. It is used in the production of batteries, ammunition, metal products (solder and pipes), and devices to shield X-rays. Because of health concerns, lead from gasoline, paints and ceramic products, caulking, and pipe solder has been dramatically reduced in recent years.
Lead poisoning is the most significant and prevalent disease of environmental origin among children living in the United States. Despite considerable knowledge, increased screening, and intervention efforts, lead exposure still occurs. In the United States, environmental lead exposure affects up to one million preschool children. Health effects include decreased intelligence, behavioral and speech problems, anemia, decreased muscle and bone growth, poor muscle coordination, and hearing damage. High levels of lead can cause many health problems by damaging the brain, nervous system, and kidneys.
While everyone is exposed to lead in the environment, there are specific sources and ways in which people can be exposed to high amounts of lead:
  • Paint: Dust from deteriorating lead-based paint is considered the primary source of lead exposure. Many homes were painted with lead-based paint until it was banned in 1977. Due to the long term use of lead-based paints, many homes in the United States still have lead-based paint that is now peeling, flaking, or wearing away. The dust or paint chips contain high levels of lead that easily find ways into the mouths of young children. A particular problem has emerged due to the large number of homes with lead-based paints that are undergoing renovations.
  • Workplace: Adults may be exposed to lead in their workplace environment and when they return home, they may bring lead dust on on their clothes or other personal belongings. If precautionary measures are not taken, other family members, including children, can be exposed to lead.
  • Environment: Lead can contaminate the water and soil and enter the body through ingestion or inhalation. Furthermore, communities built near mining and smelting waste piles are a significant source of lead exposure. Children may play on or near these sites and household dust or soil may also contain lead from these sites.
All children under the age of 6 years old are at risk because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands or other objects, which may be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths. Also, children living at or below the poverty line who live in older housing are at greatest risk. Additionally, children of some racial and ethnic groups and those living in older housing are disproportionately affected by lead.
Click here for the Utah Childhood Blood Lead Screening Recommendations

It is important to determine the construction year of the house or the dwelling where your child may spend a large amount of time (e.g., grandparents or daycare). In houses built before 1978, assume that the paint has lead unless tests show otherwise. The following guidelines will help you reduce lead exposure:
  • Talk to your state or local health department about testing paint and dust from your home for lead.
  • Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
  • Pregnant women and children should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation. They should not participate in activities that disturb old paint or in cleaning up paint debris after work is completed.
  • Create barriers between living/play areas and lead sources. Until environmental clean-up is completed, parents should clean and isolate all sources of lead. They should close and lock doors to keep children away from chipping or peeling paint on walls. You can also apply temporary barriers such as contact paper or duct tape to cover holes in walls or to block children's access to other sources of lead.
  • Regularly wash children's hands and toys. Hands and toys can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil. Both are known lead sources.
  • Regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window components. Because household dust is a major source of lead, parents should wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces every 2-3 weeks. Window sills and wells can contain high levels of leaded dust. They should be kept clean. If possible, windows should be shut to prevent abrasion of painted surfaces or opened from the top sash.
  • Prevent children from playing in bare soil; if possible, provide them with sandboxes. Parents should plant grass on areas of bare soil or cover the soil with grass seed, mulch, or wood chips if possible. Until the bare soil is covered, parents should move play areas away from the bare soil and away from the house. If using a sandbox, parents should also cover the box when not in use to prevent cats from using it as a litter box. That will help protect children from exposure to animal waste.

Recursos (en español)

Resources (websites)

Program Websites

Childhood Blood Lead Testing

Blood levels are classified as either confirmed or unconfirmed. Blood lead levels are confirmed by either one venous test or two capillary or unknown specimen tests less than 12 weeks apart. Unconfirmed blood lead levels are results without a confirmatory test within 12 weeks.

Confirmed and Unconfirmed Blood Lead Levels

Blood levels are classified as either confirmed or unconfirmed. Blood lead levels are confirmed by either one venous test or two capillary or unknown specimen tests less than 12 weeks apart. Unconfirmed blood lead levels are results without a confirmatory test within 12 weeks.

Confirmed Blood Lead Levels

Indicator Reports



The Utah EPHT Network receives blood lead data from Utah Blood Lead Registry (UBLR). The UBLR is a database that contains the test results of blood lead tests performed on adults and children who live in Utah. The UBLR was started in 1990 and is currently maintained by the Utah Environmental Epidemiology Program (EEP). Under Utah Administrative Rule 386-703 (Injury Reporting Rule), laboratories that perform blood lead tests are required to report all results of those tests to the EEP. Currently, the reportable level in Utah is 5 micrograms per deciliter of blood. Originally, the UBLR only received reports on adults with elevated blood levels. In 1996, the EEP started collecting data on children as well.

The "Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance" or ABLES project was started in 1992 with funding assistance from the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH). The ABLES project focuses primarily on occupational blood lead exposure. Additional risk data is collected by telephone questionnaires administered to adults with elevated blood lead levels (identified from the laboratory reports), industry with potential lead exposure risks, and physicians who treat cases of adult blood lead poisoning. As part of the ABLES project, the Bureau of Epidemiology provides the following information pamphlets or charts. Find them in the "Data tables, charts, and more detailed information" and "FAQs and Resources" tabs.

A Birth Cohort is a group of individuals born during the same period or year. The birth cohort for blood lead data is the number of children born in a particular calendar year who are then followed until they reach their third birthday. Learn more about blood lead levels by birth cohort .

The "Child Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance" or CBLES project was started in 1996 with funding assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CBLES study focuses on environmental blood lead exposure in children. Additional risk data is also collected in this study by telephone questionnaires of parents or guardians of children with elevated blood lead levels (identified from the laboratory reports), physicians who treat cases of childhood blood lead poisoning and by conducting environmental sampling for lead.

View complete metadata.
The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sun, 16 December 2018 1:45:57 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Tue, 23 Oct 2018 12:38:56 MDT