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This test measures the amount of lead in the blood. Lead is a poisonous (toxic) metal that can damage the brain and other parts of the body. A small amount is present in most people.

The reference values listed here are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other things. This means that a value that falls outside the reference values listed here may still be okay for you.

Results are usually available within 1 week.

Your doctor will likely want to do more evaluation and another blood lead level test if:1, 2

What Affects the Test

You may not be able to have the test or the results may not be helpful if your skin is contaminated with lead. Low levels of lead can be found almost anywhere, including on the skin.

What To Think About

  • Timed urine tests may be done to check the amount of lead in urine and/or to keep track of the amount of lead being removed from your body during chelation therapy.
  • The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires companies to test the blood of employees who work with lead. Results need to be reported to the local health department if 2 or more blood lead levels are above 10 mcg/dL. To learn more, see OSHA's website at


  1. Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). Announcement: Response to the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention report, low level lead exposure harms children: A renewed call for primary prevention. MMWR, 61(20): 383. Also available online:

Other Works Consulted

  • Committee on Environmental Health, American Academy of Pediatrics (2005, reaffirmed 2009). Lead exposure in children: Prevention, detection, and management. Pediatrics, 116: 1036–1046. Also available online:

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 26, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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