New Legislation Offers Stronger Protection for Georgia Children Exposed to Lead


Atlanta – There is no safe amount of lead in a child’s blood. Even small amounts of lead can result
in damage to the brain and nervous system, cause behavioral problems, learning difficulties and
other medical issues – all of which may be permanent. However, legislation passed by the General
Assembly and signed into law by Governor Kemp, bolsters protection for Georgia children who
may be exposed to lead.

The amount of lead in blood is referred to as the blood lead level, which is measured in
micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (?g/dL). The new Georgia legislation lowers the threshold
for confirmed lead poisoning from 20 to 3.5 micrograms of lead per deciliter. The level is now
consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“DPH is extremely grateful to the members of the General Assembly and the Governor for their
decisive action which allows for a more robust program for identifying and preventing cases of lead
poisoning, and protecting the children of Georgia,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H.,
commissioner, Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH).

Those most at risk include children under six years of age, children living at or below the federal
poverty level, pregnant women, and those who live in older housing. Often, there are no obvious
symptoms of lead exposure.

A simple blood test can detect lead poisoning. A small amount of blood is taken from a finger or
heel prick or from a vein in the arm. Based on your child’s blood lead test results, healthcare
providers can recommend follow-up actions and care. DPH strongly urges parents to have their
children tested for lead.

Lead can be found in many places in a child’s environment, but lead exposure is preventable. The
key is stopping children from coming into contact with lead.

“With passage of this important legislation and added funding, DPH will hire 18 additional lead
inspectors statewide to investigate cases of lead exposure, educate families on ways to reduce
exposure, and work with property owners to eliminate and reduce the source of lead. This will
protect more Georgia children and families” said Chris Rustin, DrPH, MS, REHS, DPH deputy

For more information about lead poisoning or preventing exposure to lead please visit: or