If a child is found to have an elevated blood lead level (EBL) (check provider protocols to see if this is the case), then your medical provider or public health nurse will conduct an interview with the the child's family to try and determine the source of lead exposure. If the interview clearly points to a source of lead exposure, then the family should receive counseling from the provider. If the interview assessment tool does not point to a definite source of lead exposure, then the provider should contact the nearest local health department or Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) regional office to arrange for a nurse or public health technician to conduct a home visit.
If the home visit does not pinpoint the source of lead exposure, then an environmental investigation may be necessary. The provider will need to contact the nearest local health department or DSHS regional office to arrange for an environmental investigator to go to the home. Different health departments handle the process differently. Some require a written request for an investigation, and others may accept a verbal request for an inspection. DSHS will require a written request for an inspection from a health care provider.
Children with an EBL of 30 micrograms/deciliter or greater of lead in the blood are usually given top priority for an investigation, and most health departments will only send out an investigator if the venous confirmation is 20 micrograms/deciliter or greater, or if at least two follow-up blood tests have been in the 15-19 micrograms/deciliter range.
For more information regarding home visits or home interviews, please contact the Texas Department of State Health Service, Texas Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 1-800-588-1248 or (512) 458-1248. For more information concerning Environmental Home Assessments, please contact the DSHS Environmental Lead Program at (512) 834-6787, ext. 2434 or toll-free in Texas at 1-888-778-9440.
Environmental Home Lead Assessment - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Why is lead a problem?
Exposure to lead (especially lead dust) has been shown to be particularly dangerous to children, mainly because they play on the floor and engage in a great deal of hand-to-mouth activity. Children under the age of six are of special concern because their developing brains and other organs can easily be damaged by lead, and even small amounts of lead can lead to lower IQs and learning disabilities.
2. What should I do if I think my child has been lead poisoned?
If you think that your child has been lead poisoned, contact your pediatrician, local health clinic or the nearest Texas Department of State Health Services regional office immediately on how you can get your child's blood tested for lead.
3. How can I get DSHS to conduct an environmental home assessment?
Your doctor or public health nurse will decide whether a home lead assessment survey is necessary, and are also the ones who must initiate a request to get the survey done through your local health department. Home assessments are typically conducted when a child has been determined to be lead poisoned. With your permission, a health professional trained to identify potential sources of lead exposure will visit your home to perform a survey that may uncover how your child's exposure occurred.
4. How can I get more information on childhood lead poisoning?
Visit the Texas Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program website, or call toll-free at (888) 588-1248.