When is a blood lead test ordered?

The blood lead test is used to screen for exposure to harmful levels of lead. It may also be ordered to monitor the effectiveness of treatment and to confirm that lead levels are decreasing over time.

Blood lead tests may be ordered to screen people in the workplace if lead contamination is a possibility. Family members also may be screened because lead can be carried home on clothing. This testing conforms to federal and state laws for occupational exposure.

What does the test result mean?

The higher the test result, the more lead is in the blood. However, the amount of lead in the blood does not necessarily reflect the total amount of lead in the body. This is because lead travels from the lungs and intestinal tract to the blood and organs, and then is gradually removed from the blood and organs and stored in tissues such as bones and teeth. The danger that a particular lead level represents depends on the age and health of the person, the amount of lead they are exposed to, and the amount of time that they are exposed to elevated lead levels.