In the event of a chemical spill or terrorist event, public health laboratories must be prepared to analyze blood or other clinical samples for toxic chemicals. APHL collects and synthesizes information on their ability to respond to chemical threat incidents.

The following fictitious example relates the typical role a state public health laboratory would play related to lead poisoning. 

Public Health Lab Responds to Lead Contamination

At two-years old Kayla was toddling all over Jeff and Tamika's house. She grabbed at everything within reach, putting as much of it as possible into her teeny little mouth. During one of her well child visits, Kayla's pediatrician recommended testing her blood for lead. Jeff and Tamika had heard about lead poisoning but had no idea that living in an old home put their daughter at risk for lead exposure. They readily agreed to have her tested, since lead can cause serious IQ and behavioral problems.

Kayla's blood was drawn and sent to the state public health laboratory for analysis. When the result came back elevated, a representative from the Department of Health came out to Jeff and Tamika's house to do a home risk assessment. She took dust samples and pieces of peeling paint and sent these samples to the state environmental laboratory for analysis.

These results indicated that the house had lead paint at one point in time. Every time Kayla put her hand in her mouth dust from the disintegrating paint was being absorbed into her little body. Luckily, the city had a program to remediate just such homes. Jeff and Tamika moved in with Tamika's parents until after the remediation. Since then Kayla's blood lead levels have dropped considerably, and she has been developing into a beautiful, intelligent and well-behaved young girl.

The following fictitious example relates the typical role a state public health laboratory would play related to lead poisoning. 

At two-years old Kayla was toddling all over Jeff and Tamika's house. She grabbed at everything within reach, putting as much of it as possible into her teeny little mouth. During one of her well child visits, Kayla's pediatrician recommended testing her blood for lead. Jeff and Tamika had heard about lead poisoning but had no idea that living in an old home put their daughter at risk for lead exposure. They readily agreed to have her tested, since lead can cause serious IQ and behavioral problems.

Kayla's blood was drawn and sent to the state public health laboratory for analysis. When the result came back elevated, a representative from the Department of Health came out to Jeff and Tamika's house to do a home risk assessment. She took dust samples and pieces of peeling paint and sent these samples to the state environmental laboratory for analysis.

These results indicated that the house had lead paint at one point in time. Every time Kayla put her hand in her mouth dust from the disintegrating paint was being absorbed into her little body. Luckily, the city had a program to remediate just such homes. Jeff and Tamika moved in with Tamika's parents until after the remediation. Since then Kayla's blood lead levels have dropped considerably, and she has been developing into a beautiful, intelligent and well-behaved young girl.

More Information

To learn more, contact Megan Latshaw, PhD, NHS, director, Environmental Health Programs, 240.485.276, megan.latshaw@aphl.org

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