FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Starting the new year, House Enrolled Act 1313 requires Health Care Providers in Indiana to screen children between 9 and 72 months old for lead exposure.

The act is a part of a statewide health program called ‘Indiana Lead Free.”

In 2021, the state of Indiana confirmed 1,376 children with a detectable amount of lead in their blood (at least 5 micrograms per deciliter), and Allen County accounted for 93 of those cases.

“That falls in line with what we typically see,” said Josh Blauvelt, the environmental services director at the Allen County Department of Health (ACDH). “Usually, we’re looking at 80-90.”

A map showing at-risk areas for lead exposure in Allen County. The full map can be found here.

The ACDH said that usually when looking for children impacted by lead exposure, they test in areas that have old pipes or lead paint products, which can be found in older homes.

“It’s usually lead paint in homes,” Blauvelt said, but he talked about other common factors as well. “Lead piping wasn’t banned until 1986, you have lead in Gasol that started in the 1920s and wasn’t phased out until the 1970s”

But House Enrolled Act 1313 will target all children, hopefully finding cases of children who don’t live in old houses that would otherwise go untested.

“The hope is that we find children that may have otherwise been missed if they’re doing any type of questionnaire on their initial visits to a medical provider,” Blauvelt said.

According to Blauvelt, one risk factor that often goes unnoticed is lead dust on the floor.

He said that is why testing at ages 1-2 is most important, children are starting to become mobile at that age. And when they start to crawl on floors that have lead dust, it easily goes from their hands into their mouths.

“As kids start to move around and have that hand-to-mouth contact, that’s where we really start to see those lead levels,” Blauvelt said.

To prepare for the increase in testing and cases that will come with House Enrolled Act 1313, the ACHD secured a $439,000 grant last year.

“This grant will assist in providing education, lead case management and identification of sources of lead for children under 7 and their families as we support them in making informed decisions about the health of their children,” Blauvelt said.

The goal is to fight against the adverse impact lead has on children.

According to the ACHD lead can impact children’s sleeping, appetite, digestion, speech, learning, development and behavior.

To use the resources the ACHD offers, including testing for your child, visit their page on childhood lead poisoning.