As of Jan. 1, Indiana law requires that all Indiana healthcare providers determine whether children under age 6 have been tested for lead poisoning and to offer the screening.

Tuesday, Kosciusko County Health Department Administrator Bob Weaver asked the county commissioners for permission to apply for a $41,000 Health Issues & Challenges Grant. The grant comes from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The purpose of the grant is for the county health department to begin a lead-testing program in its clinic. The money will be used for equipment and possibly a part-time nurse to do the lead testing.

“It’s hard to tell right now, we don’t know how busy we would be with requests for child lead testing, but it’s all in response to the new law that went into effect in January of this year, which requires two lead tests for every child before the age of 6. They suggest that medical clinics and, in fact, you have to offer it, so we would like to offer that. We think it would be a real convenience for our clientele who uses (us) for childhood immunizations. They don’t have to have it. They can have a parent sign off, but if they would like that, I think it would be a convenience for them, just to have everything done in our clinic,” Weaver explained.

Commissioner Bob Conley asked if anyone in the county can have their child tested for lead at the clinic.

“Yes,” Weaver responded. “They wouldn’t have to get the (immunization) shots there.” He said they could just schedule an appointment to get the lead test.

Lead is a naturally occurring metal found in the earth’s crust. Lead is also a toxin that can be especially harmful to children under the age of 6, according to the Indiana Department of Health website. Lead has been mined, processed and used in commercial and household products for hundreds of years. In the past, lead was used in paint, gasoline, pottery, water pipes and other products.

After the commissioners meeting, Weaver said, “Infants, children have to be tested for lead by medical providers, like the person they go to for shots or their pediatrician. They’ll all know about it. They have to be tested, preferably, at 12 and 24 months. But, do test before the age of 6.”

He reiterated that a parent or guardian can opt their child out of the lead test.

The test collects a finger prick of the child’s blood and that’s it. The sample is then put in a special device that the grant will pay for and that is approved for that use.

“You get a lead result. And they set guidelines on what it should be - not over this amount. And, if it is, then we would refer them to a medical doctor who knows how to do that sort of thing and get the lead level down in their body,” Weaver said.

Asked if lead poisoning was a concern in Kosciusko County, Weaver said, “I wouldn’t say it’s a great concern, but we’ve had kids cause other offices out there to do testing and occasionally we’ll find somebody, they’ll find somebody that is over the limit, even by quite a bit. And we’ll help them do inspections on the house and stuffed toys maybe from another country that they’re chewing on. That’s a lot of it, where a lot of it comes from, kids chewing on toys and stuff that are made in other countries that don’t have the laws of production like we have: no lead paint, things like that. We find a lot of that.”

He said he guessed that the state lead average must be higher than the country so Indiana put a law into effect.

The biggest defect lead can have on a child is slowing down their brain development, Weaver said. “So they’re trying to catch it early obviously.”

There are ways to bring the lead levels down in a child, and then there’s a search for why the level was high in the first place.

“A lot of times you can find that, not always,” Weaver said.

When lead gets into the body, it can travel to all parts of the body and cause harm to the organs or tissues and cause lasting problems, according to the IDH website. Lead is more harmful to young children because their brains and nervous systems are still developing.

Lead toxicity can be treated, but any damage caused cannot be reversed.

The lead testing will be offered at the Health Services Pavilion, 1515 Provident Drive, Warsaw. The grant doesn’t start until July 1, and Weaver said they are working out the details of the lead testing for children, but they hope to be “up and running” on July 1.

More information on lead and the testing requirements can be found on the state’s website at