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Lead Poisoning Screening

Overview

Talk to your doctor about whether you or your family is at risk for lead poisoning. During a routine health examination, the risk for lead exposure can be evaluated by answering questions about family members' living and working conditions. The doctor may then decide whether blood lead levels should be measured.

Adults

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) requires companies to test the blood of employees who work with lead. CCOHS sets industry standards to protect workers.

Adults who do not work with lead usually are not tested for lead poisoning. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, you may want to ask your doctor about your risk for lead poisoning. A pregnant woman who is exposed to lead can pass it to her baby (fetus). Lead can also be passed to a baby through the mother's breast milk.

Children

Children should be checked, no matter what their age, if they have been exposed to lead or if they have symptoms that could be caused by lead poisoning.

If the answers to the following questions are "yes" or "I don't know," a lead test may need to be done.

  • Does your child live in or regularly visit a house or building that was built before 1976? This question could apply to a facility such as a home daycare centre or the home of a babysitter or relative.
  • Does your child have a sibling or playmate who now has or has had lead poisoning?
  • Does your child live in or regularly visit a house built before 1976 that has recently been (within the last 6 months) or is currently being renovated or remodelled?

Lead screening programs

Your local health unit or provincial ministry of health can provide information on testing recommendations in your area.

Credits

Current as of: February 10, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
R. Steven Tharratt MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology

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