Childhood Lead

Testing for Lead Exposure

There are two testing methods determining whether a child has been exposed to lead. One involves taking blood from a finger (capillary) and the other from a vein (venous).

What is New Jersey's testing law?
  • All children should be tested at both 12 and 24 months of age
  • Any child 25 to 72 months (less than 6 years) of age who has never previously been tested 
  • Any child up to 72 months of age who has been exposed to a known or suspected source of lead
Where can my child be tested?
Does insurance cover this cost?
  • Every health insurance plan in New Jersey covering a group of 50 or more persons, including Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) and Managed Care Organizations (MCO), is required to cover the cost of lead testing without any deductible.
  • If your health insurance plan covers a group of 49 or less persons, your child can receive testing on a sliding fee scale (based on your household’s income) from a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). 
What is the role of my child's health care provider?

Your child’s health care provider will explain the test results, tell you when retesting is needed, and provide prevention information.

You may be asked the following questions to determine if your child needs testing more frequently than New Jersey’s testing law. 

  • Does your child live in or regularly visit a house with peeling or chipping paint built before 1978?
  • Does your child live in or regularly visit a house built before 1978 with recent, ongoing or planned renovations?
  • Does your child live with an adult whose job or hobby involves exposure to lead?
  • Did your child have an elevated blood lead level the last time he or she was screened?
What happens if my child has an elevated blood lead level?

Your child's health care provider will:

  • Tell you when your child needs to be retested
  • Provide prevention information to reduce or eliminate your child’s further exposure
  • Work with your local health department

Your local health department will:

  • Arrange a home visit by a nurse case manager and lead inspector/risk assessor
  • Educate you about the effects and prevention of elevated blood lead levels
  • Assist in testing of siblings, other children and pregnant women living in the same household
  • Educate about nutrition, handwashing, housekeeping, and other ways to reduce your exposures
  • Assess your family’s needs for community resources
  • Collect information about your home
  • Test painted surfaces
  • Determine sources of lead exposure in your neighborhood
  • Test other possible sources of lead such as water, soil, play structures and consumer products such as toys.
Last Reviewed: 8/28/2019