Vermont’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program – 2020 Data Update

Vermont’s progress increasing the percentage of children tested each year has been mixed. After holding steady at approximately 80% for many years, the percentage of 1-year olds tested each year declined steadily from 82% in 2014 to 74% in 2020. While the percentage of 2-year olds tested increased by almost 30% from 2006 to 2014, there was a sharp decline in 2020. The percentage of 2-year olds tested decreased from 72% in 2019 to 64% in 2020. This decline is likely the result of the shutdown that started in March 2020 due to COVID-19.

Steady progress has been made in reducing the number of children with blood lead levels at or above 5 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL). From 2006 through 2020, the percentage of 1- and 2-year olds with blood lead levels greater than or equal to 5 μg/dL declined (1-year olds from 19.4% to 5.1%, and 2-year olds from 22.5% to 3.2%). There were 336 children ages 1 and 2 who had a blood lead level greater than or equal to 5 µg/dL. In total, 400 children under the age of 6 had a blood lead level greater than or equal to 5 µg/dL in 2020.

Vermont updated the Blood Lead Testing, Reporting, and Response Rule in September 2020, lowering the State’s definition of an elevated blood lead result from 5 μg/dL to any detected level. Research highlights that there is no safe level of lead and levels at and below 5 µg/dL still impair development. Therefore, any level of lead in the blood is considered elevated.