Lead poisoning, the number one environmental illness of children, is caused primarily by lead-based paint in older homes. While Illinois has made great progress in recent years, we maintain one of the highest rates in the nation for the number of children with elevated blood lead levels. The most common exposure to lead by children is through the ingestion of paint chips and contaminated dust from deteriorated or disturbed lead-based paint in homes built before 1978. About 75 percent of Illinois homes built before 1978 contain some lead-based paint. Other exposures may be from imported goods or food containing lead.(1)

The goal is to prevent childhood lead exposure before any harm occurs.

  • Primary prevention – the removal of lead hazards from the environment before a child is exposed – is the most effective way to ensure that children do not experience harmful long-term effects of lead exposure.
  • Secondary prevention – including blood lead testing and follow-up – remains an essential safety net for children who may already be exposed to lead. (2, including picture below)



While lead exposure can affect anyone, children are at highest risk for experiencing its detrimental effects because their bodies are smaller and still developing. Children ages 2 years old and younger are the highest priority for evaluation and testing due to brain development and frequent hand to mouth activity (such as putting toys in their mouth or sucking their thumb that could have picked up lead dust from a source in their immediate living environment). All children ages 6 and under are required to be evaluated for lead exposure risks by their physician and tested if necessary. The Illinois Lead Program recommends all children be evaluated or tested as indicated at ages 12 months and 24 months, and 3, 4,5, and 6 years of age. (1)


CLICK HERE FOR A MAP OF ILLINOIS LEAD DATA, including Clinton County data.


The Clinton County Health Department offers capillary (fingerstick) lead testing, with a doctor’s order. The cost is: $25.00

Follow this LINK for a Lead Poisoning Home Checklist, to see if your family might be at risk.


1)Lead Poisoning Prevention. (n.d.). Retrieved from

2)Lead Poisoning Prevention. (2019, July 30). Retrieved September 09, 2020, from