In Arizona, healthcare providers identify hundreds of children each year with elevated blood lead levels, which our Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) monitors. Although there is no safe blood lead level, interventions are initiated at blood lead levels ≥ 5 µg/dL, the CDC reference value. When a child is identified with elevated blood lead levels, CLPPP will coordinate with health care providers and families to ensure that the child receives follow up testing. Efforts are made to identify the source of the lead poisoning through phone interviews and home investigations. Paint, soil, dust wipes, and other sources are collected to pinpoint the source.

In Arizona, the most common sources of lead are lead-based paint, imported spices, imported glazed pottery, home remedies, and take-home exposures from hobbies or jobs. Childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children.

Even at low blood lead levels, children’s intelligence, behavior, hearing and growth can be irreparably damaged .

Over the past several years, CLPPP has been searching for a replacement for our blood lead surveillance system in order to improve our ability to rapidly monitor results and initiate follow-up for impacted children. After looking at several available options, it was clear that the Arizona-built electronic disease surveillance system, MEDSIS, would be the best fit for capturing cases of elevated blood lead results in children. Per state rules, all blood lead results are required to be reported to ADHS.

CLPPP receives more than 70,000 elevated and non-elevated blood lead test results from laboratories and providers for children across the state every year, although generally less than 2.5 percent of these indicate elevated lead levels. Children with elevated blood lead levels will get multiple tests in a year to ensure their levels are going down. MEDSIS allows for prompt identification of new children with elevated blood lead results and their follow-up test results so that we can initiate timely support for families and healthcare providers to protect impacted children.

MEDSIS has been used for general communicable disease surveillance since 2006 and has key functions that could easily be applied to lead surveillance. ADHS is pleased to offer healthcare providers and reporters the ability to enter blood lead results directly into the system, which is especially helpful for health care providers conducting in-office blood lead testing. Thanks to our Lead Program, MEDSIS Program, IT MEDSIS Development Team, and Electronic Disease Surveillance Program for all of their tremendous efforts ringing in a new year for blood lead surveillance.