Statewide, an average of about 1.9% of children under six have elevated blood lead levels, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). This is a slight rise from previous years. The statewide average dipped to a low of 1.6% in 2015, possibly with the increased awareness from media attention on Flint, Michigan at the time. However, some counties are experiencing much more significant levels. To find out the percentages in your county, along with graphs of statewide trends, see this data map from CDPHE.
Lead can enter the bloodstream through a variety of sources, including lead-based paint and drinking water that flows through lead pipes. Eating wild game that was shot with lead bullets is another source. Young children tend to be more susceptible to lead poisoning than adults because their brains and bodies are still developing, with less ability to fight off the poisoning; and also, because teething toddlers want to put everything and anything into their mouths. Anyone, however, can get lead poisoning, so people of every age should be careful.
CDPHE has some helpful FAQs about lead on their website. They also offer a lead screening guide for parents. CDPHE recommends that all children considered “high-risk” should be screened for lead. The guide lists the factors that are used to determine if a child is at high risk. (The guide is also available in Spanish).
More details about CDPHE’s efforts to bring awareness to the issue of childhood lead poisoning can be found in their Eliminating Childhood Lead Poisoning in Colorado strategic plan. Search the keyword lead poisoning in our library catalog for numerous other reports and data summaries.