Dr. Sameer VohraSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has announced an expanded list of high-risk ZIP codes, increasing mandatory testing for lead exposure of children who live within those areas. 148 new zip codes, representing parts of 60 Illinois counties, have been added to the list this year, bringing the total of high-risk ZIP codes to almost 1,200.

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“There is no safe level of lead in the blood,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “To better serve our children and build brighter futures for all of our residents, IDPH is acting to ensure that more children have access to the testing and interventions necessary to decrease the potential serious physical and developmental health concerns linked to lead exposure.”

Under Illinois law, any child residing in a high-risk ZIP code is to be tested automatically at 12, 24, and 36 months. All children six years of age and younger are required to be assessed for lead exposure through the use of a questionnaire administered by a pediatrician. In addition, children who fall into other risk categories spelled out in the questionnaire are also tested.

High-risk ZIP codes are determined through an algorithm that assesses a number of different risk factors. The department has been expanding that list of ZIP codes gradually and expects to implement universal testing for lead exposure across all Illinois ZIP codes by 2026. The new expanded list, which took effect July 1, 2024, can be found at: Pediatric Lead Poisoning High-Risk ZIP Code Areas (illinois.gov).

Under current Illinois law, blood tests which come back with lead levels in excess of five micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) require a public health intervention. This includes a home inspection to determine the source of the lead contamination. If lead is found, the inspector will work with the homeowner to remove the sources of lead. In addition, there will also be a visit from a public health nurse who will educate the family on ways to protect children from the harmful effects of lead.

The newly-added ZIP codes come from the following Illinois counties:

Adams

Alexander

Bond

Boone

Calhoun

Carroll

Champaign

Clinton

Coles

Cook

Crawford

Cumberland

Dekalb

Douglas

DuPage

Edwards

Effingham

Franklin

Gallatin

Hardin

Henry

Jackson

Jefferson

Jo Daviess

Johnson

Kane

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La Salle

Lake

Lee

Macon

Macoupin

Madison

Marion

Marshall

Massac

McLean

Monroe

Montgomery

Morgan

Ogle

Peoria

Piatt

Pope

Pulaski

Putnam

Randolph

Richland

Rock Island

St. Clair

Saline

Sangamon

Shelby

Tazewell

Union

Vermilion

Washington

White

Whiteside

Will

Winnebago

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