Lead Exposure and Testing Top of Mind as Universities and Governments Grapple with Concerns

Lead poisoning and toxicity was first reported in 250 BC by Nikander of Colophon. Before then, multiple societies had already started noticing lead’s dangerous effects on living things.

Despite lead’s long tainted history, humans, especially children, continue to experience harmful exposures to the metal. As recently as the 1980s, the average blood-lead level of the United States population was found to be significantly higher than the clinically recommended amount. Researchers from Princeton University attribute these levels to the frequent use of leaded gasoline during the 1960s to 1980s.

Today, significantly more protections are in place to keep adults and children from the negative health impacts associated with lead. However, that does not mean many populations are not still at risk of exposure. Over half a million U.S. children under the age of 5 have concerning blood lead levels.

Many Americans are aware of major lead crises such as the dangerously high levels of lead exposures in Flint, Michigan due to a failed cost-saving measure by the city’s government.

Now in 2022, lead exposure and testing still works its way into the news cycle daily. Legislators in the state of Pennsylvania have been pushing for universal lead testing for young children, schools across the country are consistently finding the need to test their water and universities have discovered widespread lead contamination.

Pennsylvania State Legislature Concerned with Childhood Lead Exposures

According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne, wants the state to require universal lead testing for children between the ages of 9 months and 12 months. In addition to kids approaching their first birthday, Baker wants pregnant mothers to test for lead exposure as well.

The focus on children and pregnant mothers comes from young children’s heightened sensitivity to lead. Lead exposure can result in a number of health issues for kids including:

  • Brain damage
  • Nervous system damage
  • Development and growth issues
  • Learning problems
  • Behavior issues
  • Hearing and speech problems

This is not Baker’s first time sponsoring legislation for blood level testing. The article explains that her original push for universal testing was amended. Currently, Pennsylvania suggests doctors make the effort to test children under the age of 2 and expecting mothers for lead exposure if they suspect they have been exposed. Children receiving medical assistance are required to test for lead exposure twice before they turn 2.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ends their reporting with a quote from Baker explaining that all children are at risk of lead exposure.

Testing blood levels acts as a last line of defense against lead. In addition to testing children and mothers, there are ways to discover lead at the source. You can test a water supply for lead or test solid materials. This creates an opportunity to detect exposures and prevent new ones with the right remediation tactics.

Discovering Buildings with Lead Contamination

The University of North Carolina is conducting widespread lead testing after they discovered three water fountains on the campus contained lead. All three of these fountains were located in a library and since then they’ve found multiple other places with contaminated drinking water.

According to local news outlet Chapelboro.com, almost 100 campus buildings have at least one fixture with detectable levels of lead.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not require action unless the lead level found is higher than 15 parts per billion. However, UNC plans on taking action if any level of lead is found.

The university is working through multiple phases of testing. They started with buildings potentially built using lead components, moved onto any structures built before 1930 and are testing buildings constructed before 1990 through Fall and Winter 2022. A fourth phase is also expected to take place.

During this process UNC students and faculty have been given the opportunity to test their blood lead levels at campus health facilities.

UNC’s numerous buildings with lead-contaminated drinking water is a strong indication that other facilities around the country could have undiscovered lead issues as well.

Lead Laboratory Testing to Ease Fears and Prevent Exposures

When it comes to harmful substances such as lead, you shouldn’t have to live in uncertainty and fear.

This toxic element can be found and addressed in order to prevent ingestion and absorption into the body.

Environmental Hazards Services offers multiple forms of lead testing to help you discover it in water and in paint dust. Our lead lab efficiently processes your samples and helps you respond quickly to issues.

Contact us today and set up testing for projects of any size, scope or complexity.