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Lead Poisoning and Prevention

Program Goals:

To educate parents and care givers on the importance of preventing exposure to lead, RISKS that cause lead poisoning and TESTING for children up to age 6. To provide Medical & Environmental FOLLOW-UP and case management for children identified with lead poisoning.

Be sure to also check the FAQ about lead.

Lead Risk Evaluation:

  1. Does your child live in or regularly visit a house with peeling or chipped paint?
  2. Does your child live in or regularly visit a house built prior to 1960?
  3. Are renovations being done on your home that was built prior to 1960?
  4. Does your child have a brother, sister, or playmate who is being treated for lead poisoning?
  5. Does your child frequently come in contact with an adult whose job or hobby involves exposure to lead? (i.e.: welding, construction, battery recycling plant, pottery, stained glass?)
  6. Does your child live near a heavily traveled major highway where soil and dust maybe contaminated with lead?
  7. Does your child regularly eat or drink from dishes or use folk remedies from another country?

If you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions your child could be at risk for lead poisoning. Please contact your doctor to arrange for lead testing. If you have questions, please call Sullivan County Public Health Services at 845-292-5910 Extension 2213.

Lead Testing:

  1. Which children should be tested?
    Public Health law mandates testing for possible lead poisoning at the ages of 1 & 2 years old. Also, children should be screened regularly until 6 years of age. Preschool and childcare programs will ask whether your child has been tested.

Medical and Environmental Follow-up:

Any child with a blood level (BLL) of 10 ug/dL or above is monitored by the Sullivan County Lead Prevention Program.

BLL readings of 10-19 ug/dL receive risk reduction and educational information in the mail and, if possible, also by telephone. A child with a BLL of 20 ug/dL or higher is considered lead poisoned and receives educational material as well as a home visit by a Registered Nurse. An environmental assessment of the home by the Monticello District Office of the New York State Department of Health is also done to pinpoint any hidden high lead areas that might be the source of the lead poisoning.

For questions regarding lead based paint and other environmental factors, contact NYSDOH at 845-794-2045. All other inquiries pertaining to lead poisoning and prevention, contact us at 845-292-5910, ext. 2200.


Lead FAQ:

Q1. What causes lead poisoning in children?

Answer: The most common cause is lead-based paint. If floors have dust from old painted walls, or paint chips, a baby could breathe in lead dust, or suck on lead-dusted hands or toys. Some toddlers eat paint chips or chew on lead-painted window sills and stair rails.


Q2. What are the symptoms of lead poisoning in children?

Answer: They can include fatigue, crankiness and stomach aches. But usually there are no signs: a blood lead test is the only sure way to tell.


Q3. How is a lead test done?

Answer: A small amount of blood is taken from a finger prick or vein and tested for lead. Blood can be drawn at a doctor's office, hospital, clinic or lab. If you don't know where to bring your child for testing, call your local health department.


Q4. Which children should be tested?

Answer: All children six months to six years should be screened regularly. Children should be tested by their first birthday and again when they're two. Preschool and child care programs will be looking for proof that the child has been tested.


Q5. What if the blood test shows a problem?

Answer: For some children, simple changes in diet and more frequent hand-washing are all that is needed. Other children, with very high blood lead levels, may need drugs that help the body get rid of lead. You doctor will decide what your child needs. But treatment is not enough. The source of the lead will have to be found and the problem corrected. Your local health department will advise you.

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