Clinical Sign & Symptoms

less than 10 mcg/dl Decreased IQ, developmental toxicity (No known lower level for effects)
10 - 44 mcg/dl Behavior problems (hyperactivity, irritability), overt physical symptoms rare
45 - 69 mcg/dl Apathy/fatigue, anemia, abdominal symptoms (pain, constipation, nausea/vomiting)
70 - 100 mcg/dl Nephropathy, colic, encephalopathy
> 100 mcg/dl CNS crisis (cerebral edema, ischemia, seizure, coma, possible death)

Risk Factors

  • Age: under 6 years More time spent on floor
  • Increased hand-to-mouth behavior
  • High absorption of lead
  • Rapid central nervous system development
  • Peak risk: ages 1-2 years
  • Lives or spends significant amounts of time in pre-1978 housing/buildings with paint in poor condition or undergoing renovation
  • Exposure to lead-contaminated dust or soil
  • Low income
  • Family member who works with lead
  • Sibling with elevated blood lead level
  • Mother with history of lead exposure/lead poisoning
  • Recent immigration/foreign adoptee from region with high environmental lead levels, or spends time outside of the U.S.
  • Pica (ingestion of non-food items such as paint chips, dirt, plaster, clay, pottery)
  • Family member with hobby exposure (e.g., stained glass, ceramics, firearms, fishing)
  • Use of certain imported remedies/supplements/cosmetics
  • Use of some types of traditional/imported/handmade dishware
  • Consumption of lead-contaminated foods (e.g., Chapulines, some Mexican candy, some imported spices)
  • Exposure to lead-contaminated consumer products
  • Lives near source of lead air emissions
  • Exposure to lead-contaminated water source