Kindergarten teacher reading to children in libraryIn Arizona more than 800 children each year are identified with elevated blood lead levels (EBLL).  Even at low blood lead levels, children’s intelligence, behavior, hearing and growth can be irreparably damaged.  Most children will not have any symptoms.  The only way to detect lead poisoning is through a blood test.

All children living in high risk zip codes should receive a blood lead test at 12 and 24 months of age.  Unfortunately, the screening rate for lead poisoning in Arizona is very low; only 20 percent of children living in high risk zip codes receive a blood lead test.

In order to improve the screening rate and identify children with EBLLs, our Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is conducting a screening pilot project with three clinics located in high risk zip codes.  Screening rates and blood lead results will be monitored over three months for these pilot clinics.  The first pilot started last week.  Our team trained the front office and back office staff on site on how to identify children living in high risk zip codes and proceed with lead screening.  Stay tuned for results of the pilot.

The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program provides follow-up services, environmental investigations, and resources for lead hazard control for children with elevated blood lead levels.   Common sources of lead exposure in Arizona include lead based paint, imported children’s toys and jewelry, traditional folk remedies (i.e. Greta and Azarcon), imported spices such as chili powder and tamarind, lead contaminated pottery, and stained glass.  Check out our childhood lead screening guide for healthcare professionals to learn more about screening, health hazards of lead exposure, common sources of lead in Arizona, and how to report EBLL to the Arizona Department of Health Services.