Every year children in Arizona are identified with elevated blood lead levels. Even at low 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 .

In 2015, an estimated 432 newly identified elevated blood lead level cases were reported in Arizona. About a third of these cases were in children less than 16 years old who were born outside of the United States. A closer review of the data found that Somalia was the most common country of origin of non-native born children identified with elevated blood lead levels. Based on this information, our staff worked with the Somali American United Council of Arizona to educate and train case-managers and community members on the importance of repeat lead testing for children less than 16 years old, and prevention of lead poisoning for children and the whole family.

Some activities for this partnership included training case-managers on educating community members on risk and follow-up; identification of general risks, sources, nutrition, and testing in the home; and developing Bilingual (Somali – English) education materials.

The elimination of childhood lead poisoning has been one of the most effective public health campaigns of the 21st century, but much work remains to be done. We will continue efforts to provide education and increase follow-up testing for children identified with elevated blood lead levels. Visit our Childhood Lead website for information about preventing childhood lead poisoning.