Why should I be concerned about lead exposure?

When lead is swallowed, it can cause health problems. Swallowing lead can be a serious issue for children because their bodies and nervous systems are still developing. Too much lead can cause problems with:

  • Learning
  • Behavior
  • Speech
  • Hearing
  • Growth rates
  • Development of the nervous system

How do I know if I am being exposed to lead?

The only way to know if you have a recent or on-going exposure to lead is to get a blood lead test. During a blood lead test, a small amount of blood is taken from the finger or arm and tested for lead. Two types of blood tests may be used. 

  • A finger-prick, or capillary, test is usually the first step to determine a blood lead level. While finger-prick tests can provide fast results, they also can produce higher results if lead on the skin is captured in the sample. For this reason, a finger-prick test that shows an elevated result is usually followed by a second test to confirm.
  • A venous blood draw takes blood from the vein. This type of test can take a few days to receive results and is often used to confirm elevated blood lead levels seen in the first capillary test.

Talk with your healthcare provider about getting a blood lead test for you or your children. If you do not have a healthcare provider, contact your local health department to discuss their available services for blood lead testing. If you have other questions about blood lead testing, please call the MDHHS Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 517-335-8885 or email them at MDHHS-CLPPP@michigan.gov.

What educational resources are available?

Know the facts about lead Well fed means less lead  
Know the facts about lead Well fed means less lead (brochure)


Adult exposure to lead    
Adult exposure to lead    

Who is at risk for lead exposure?

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What are the health effects?

  • What are the health effects?

    Most people who have lead in their blood do not look or act sick. However, there is no safe level of lead in the blood. 

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How can I protect myself from lead?

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