Blood Lead Levels
Infectious agent: N/A
Description of illness: Lead poisoning is a serious environmental threat to children’s health. There is no safe blood lead level. Elevated blood lead levels can impact the central nervous system, affect the body’s production of hemoglobin, and interfere with the body’s ability to use calcium. Life-long effects, such as lowered IQ, learning disabilities and behavioral problems can result from even low levels of lead exposure; rarely, seizures, coma and death have been reported with very high lead levels. Lead can be ingested or inhaled, and routes of exposure include contaminated air, water, soil, food, or consumer products. Most children encounter lead in their own homes, as a result of exposure to lead-based paint, which was routinely used in homes until banned by the federal government in 1978. All blood lead levels (normal and elevated) are reportable to the Tennessee Department of Health.