Missouri Screening Children for Lead Exposure

Summary: In Missouri, there was a concern of potential exposure to children at a Head Start site located within a Superfund Site.

Hand holding a blood lead screening sample.

The directors of a Missouri Head Start located within the Newton County Mines Superfund Site requested that all enrolled children receive a capillary lead test.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the County Health Department performed finger sticks for children with parental approval. These tests were used to determine the amount of lead in blood (referred to as blood lead level). This is measured in micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dL). The Center for Disease Control and Prevention currently uses a blood lead reference value of 5 micrograms per deciliter to identify children with blood lead levels that are higher than most children’s levels. Test results on 26 children enrolled showed 25 results below five (5.0) micrograms per deciliter (ug/dl). One child, who tested at 5.0 ug/dl, was referred for further testing.

DHHS, ATSDR, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the County Health Department, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Head Start directors, and the Administration for Children and Families held a meeting on next steps. Afterward, EPA conducted soil sampling and dust wipe sampling, and the State Public Health Laboratory analyzed the samples. The dust wipe results all came back below the established standard of 40 micrograms per square foot (ug/ft2), which is the EPA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development standard. Three of the soil samples showed elevated lead in the soil. Soil from below the sand in the sand box area and below the jungle gym area tested high for lead.

Soil remediation of the Head Start site is anticipated in 2020.

Page last reviewed: August 11, 2021