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Tests for lead poisoning

A simple blood lead test can be done to detect the level of lead in your body. Sometimes a second test, called a zinc protoporphyrin (ZPP) test, is requested in place of a blood lead test if the lead test is not available, or requested along with the blood test. The ZPP result increases when lead interferes with red blood cell’s ability to make haemoglobin. Some experts question the value of ordering both tests at once and the ZPP test is not reliable for screening children for lead poisoning.

The National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia has updated its information and policies regarding the effect of lead on human health. Average blood lead levels in the Australian population have fallen and the NHMRC now regards any blood lead level above 5 µg/dL (0.24µmol/L) in people who have no occupational exposure as abnormal. Affected people should be investigated to discover the source of the lead exposure.

In environments where lead is endemic, e.g. in communities where lead is mined or smelted, environmental aspects of lead are considered by enHealth (The Environmental Health Standing Committee—a subcommittee of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee) which reports to the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council.

Last Review Date: December 30, 2018