Virtua provides children free screenings to measure lead levels with its Pediatric Mobile Services team

In an effort to further combat the harm of lead exposure, Virtua Health provided blood lead screenings to children earlier this week in Woodbury through its Pediatric Mobile Services team.

Lead contamination has been a prevalent issue for decades now, with amounts of lead being present in the environment, food, drinking water, paint, furniture, glassware and children’s toys.

Virtua’s director of pediatric rehabilitation services, Maria Emerson, discussed the growing risk of lead poisoning among children.

“Lead contamination has been an issue for a very long time, particularly in underserved communities,” she said. “14% of children living in communities that lack accessible health care services have elevated lead levels, compared to 2.5% nationally.”

“Virtua’s Pediatric Mobile Services brings these necessary medical screening and services, at no charge, to the children who need them most. There is much we can do to reduce the risk of lead poisoning for these children.”

Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body over a period of months or years. There is no safe level of lead in children. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems, especially in children under the age of 6. Lead can disrupt the normal growth and development of a child’s brain and central nervous system, causing irreversible damage.

Virtua’s Pediatric Mobile Services team provides lead screenings to children. Licensed medical professionals obtain a small blood sample from a finger prick, which is analyzed in three minutes. If the test shows lead levels above 5 mcg/dL, follow-up tests are needed. These tests are performed by a physician or laboratory and an investigation for lead hazards may be conducted at the child’s home and environments the child frequently visits.