Lead is, fortunately, much less prevalent in the environment than before. However there have been some recent reports of Lead in the media, from the water supply in Flint, MI to the most recent report of Lead in the drinking water in certain Chicago schools.
Lead is a heavy metal which serves no purpose in our bodies and competes with Iron in certain biological processes (making red blood cells/hemoglobin, for one). So NO lead is good lead.
Before Lead was removed from paints and as an additive in gasoline we would typically see and accept higher levels as normal. For instance when I first started in medicine in the 1990’s a level up to 20 was considered acceptable. Nowadays we get concerned for levels > 5.
Current sources of Lead include old pipes, old paint and exposure to Lead containing dirt. Other sources are related to hobbies such as glazing/stained glass and firearms/shooting. Toys made in other countries without strict oversight may also be found on occasion to contain lead.
At Weissbluth Pediatrics we routinely check for Lead at 12 and 24 months of age in all children. Any child with persistent mouthing of non-food items or pika may be tested at the request or discretion of the family and doctor. If your child’s Lead level is above 5 in the office we will request a venous blood draw to confirm the result.
In good Health,
Paul Miller, M.D., F.A.A.P.