Public Health Organizations Work Together to Stop Childhood Lead Poisoning

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There are no safe blood lead levels in children. About half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated.

The Blackwell community in Oklahoma is one of them. The soil at various locations throughout the community is contaminated with high levels of lead and other metals from past site activities. As a follow-up to a recent Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) public health assessment, Patrick Young, Environmental Health Scientist in ATSDR’s Region 6, educated the community about lead exposure and collaborated with the Pediatric Environmental Specialty Units (PEHSU), Oklahoma Health Department, and Payne County Health Department to provide training to area physicians about childhood lead poisoning. The goal for the training was to increase blood lead testing of children in the community.

Enviornmental exposure questions?

Kelli Rader, Oklahoma Regional Public Health Director, reported that because of this collaboration, parents no longer have to seek out testing. The doctors agreed to change their practices and provide a long-term solution such as testing children’s blood lead levels at a younger age, increasing testing frequency, and improving follow-up of children with elevated and near elevated blood lead levels.

PEHSUs are a Great Resource!

Did you know the PEHSUs network has regional offices across the country? The offices include experts in pediatrics, allergy/immunology, neurodevelopment, toxicology, occupational and environmental medicine, nursing, and reproductive health. PEHSUs also have an interconnected system of specialists throughout North America. They respond to questions from public health professionals, clinicians, policy makers, and the public about the impacts of environmental factors on the health of children and reproductive-age adults. Learn more!
soilSHOP community map

Preventing Lead Exposure in Local Soil: ATSDR’s soilSHOP Program

ATSDR’s Soil Screening, Health, Outreach, and Partnership (soilSHOP) program raises awareness about lead hazards through educational community events across the United States. These events offer residents free soil-lead screening and one-on-one health education based on their specific testing results to reduce exposure to lead right in their own backyards. If you are interested in sponsoring your own soilSHOP, ATSDR provides a comprehensive soilSHOP toolkit on our website, along with training and technical assistance to partners and organizations interested in conducting a soilSHOP event.

Child enjoys playing in the dirt (CDC PHIL)

The soilSHOP program supports the President’s Task Force on reducing lead exposure in children. SoilSHOP events raise awareness about lead hazards through educational community events across the United States.

To learn more about soilSHOP and events occurring this year, visit soilSHOP website or email

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Page last reviewed: June 20, 2019
Page last updated: June 20, 2019