New York State Department of Health Launches Educational Campaign on Childhood Lead Exposure

Department Emphasizes Importance of Blood Lead Testing at Ages 1 and 2

Department Supports Governor Hochul's Nation-leading New Program to Prevent Childhood Lead Exposure

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 9, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health this week launched a digital educational campaign aimed at raising awareness of childhood lead exposure. The campaign emphasizes ways to keep lead away from children and the importance of blood lead tests for children at ages 1 and 2.

"We know that children can look and feel healthy even when they've been exposed to lead, and this is why it's so important that New Yorkers know how to protect their children," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "Steps such as keeping them away from peeling paint in older homes and talking with their doctor about testing can keep them safe."

Lead is a metal that can harm a young child's growth, behavior, and ability to learn. It can also cause anemia, kidney damage, and hearing loss. Lead can be found in dust, air, water, soil, and in some products used in and around our homes. Lead-based paint in pre-1980 homes is the leading contributor to elevated blood lead levels in children.

Children younger than six years old are more susceptible to lead exposure than any other age group. Most often, children are exposed to lead by swallowing dust from old lead paint. It can be found on floors, windowsills, hands, and toys. Lead can also be passed from pregnant person to baby during pregnancy.

The Department's campaign reminds caregivers that all children must get a blood lead test at ages 1 and 2. Blood tests are the only sure way to know if a child has been exposed to lead. Additionally, at each well-child visit, health care providers should assess children six months to 6 years of age for risk of high lead exposure.

A lead test uses a small amount of blood taken from a finger prick or a vein. Blood can be drawn at a doctor's office, a hospital, a clinic, or a lab. Children with lead test results greater than 5 micrograms per deciliter may require additional follow-up actions to address possible sources of lead exposures.

The Department's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention website offers information on how to protect children, including keeping children away from peeling paint and broken plaster, washing hands often to rinse off any lead dust or dirt, washing toys, using lead-free dishes and more.

The New York State Department of Health has strong programs, plans, and laws working to prevent childhood lead exposure statewide. These programs also help children who have elevated blood levels. Local health departments identify new cases and provide care coordination, environmental case management, and in-home visits to help families reduce their environmental risks. The Advisory Council on Lead Poisoning Prevention provides guidance to the Department concerning the development of these programs, plans, and laws.

This year's enacted Budget provides $39 million to reduce the risk of lead exposure in rental properties. The Department supports Governor Kathy Hochul's efforts to create a nation-leading program to combat childhood lead exposure in residential buildings in high-risk areas across New York State. The Department is currently in the initial phase of developing a registry of rental units certified as lead safe or requiring the remediation of lead-based paint hazards for these communities of concern. The Department will work with local health departments and code enforcement offices that have existing rental registry and inspection programs.

Visit for information on testing and ways to protect children from lead exposure.