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. As lead exposure increases, the range and seriousness of health effects increases.

Lower levels of lead in children can result in:

  • Lower IQ scores.
  • Decreased academic achievement.
  • Increased problems with behavior and attention related disorders.
  • Decreased hearing.
  • Decreased kidney function.

Along with the health effects listed above, higher levels of lead in children can also result in:

  • Anemia.
  • Severe stomachache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or constipation.
  • Muscle weakness or soreness.
  • Severe damage to the brain, nervous system, and kidneys.

Lower levels of lead in adults can result in:

  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Decreased kidney function.
  • Decreased cognitive function.
  • Slower reaction times.
  • Altered mood and behavior.

Along with the health effects listed above, higher levels of lead in adults can also result in:

  • Anemia.
  • Muscle weakness or soreness.
  • Severe stomachache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or constipation.
  • Poor sperm and semen quality.
  • Delayed conception.
  • Increased risk of heart disease.

A blood lead test is the only way to know if you and your loved ones have recent or on-going exposures to lead. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services considers 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) or more to be an Elevated Blood Lead Level (or EBLL). Talk to your healthcare provider about getting a blood lead test for you and your loved ones if you’re concerned about a recent or on-going lead exposure.