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Department of Early Learning and Care

Lead Testing

The harmful impact of lead exposure is well known and documented. There is no safe blood lead level for people. Lead is especially harmful to young children and pregnant women because of the impact on growth and brain development. Lead in water is most harmful to formula-fed infants. The most important step adults can take is to prevent lead exposure before it occurs.

Applicable Child Care Rules

All state-regulated child care providers in Oregon must test for lead in their drinking water and send test results to the Office of Child Care. If the test results come in at or higher than “15 parts per billion (ppb),” the provider must make changes to prevent lead exposure. Providers must retest their water supplies at least every six (6) years, from the date of the last test.

The Office of Child Care works with child care providers to assure drinking water sources are tested for lead at least every six (6) years, per Oregon Administrative Rule.

Lead Testing Requirements

Every six (6) years, child care providers must:

  1. Take a water sample from faucets or fixtures used for drinking or preparing.
  2. Submit the sample for lead testing using an accredited drinking water Typically, it takes four to six weeks for the water sample to be processed by the lab.
  3. Send a copy of the test results to the Office of Child Care within 10 calendar days of receiving the results.

Lead Testing Instructions (CEN-0019)

AndRS Lead Guidance (UnL-0228)

Have questions about lead testing in child care?

Contact the Office of Child Care Lead Hotline by phone at 503-947-5908, or email:

Approved Water Testing Labs

Open and download the ORELAP labs list for lead testing below:

ORELAP Labs for Lead Testing

Lead testing results (CEN-0017)

RS Lead Alternative Water Declaration (UnL-0227)

Alternative Water Declaration (CEN-0016):

Corrective Actions

If the test results show a lead level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) or higher, the provider must:

  1. Immediately prevent children from using or consuming the water by removing access to the faucet. The provider must supply bottled water for drinking, cooking, and preparing food and infant formula.
  2. Within 60 days of receiving the results, submit a plan to the Office of Child Care to address the lead levels in the faucets or fixtures testing at or higher than 15 parts per billion. The plan must be consistent with the “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 3T's for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools” described in the following section.
  3. Retest the water after making changes or continue to use bottled water only.

Corrective Action Plan (CEN-0015): English

Did You Know That the Cost of Lead Testing Can Be Reimbursed?

  • Water lead testing on plumbing fixtures or faucets in child care programs that are used for drinking, cooking, or preparing food or infant formula.
  • Tests must be conducted by an ORELAP accredited laboratory.

Reimbursement for lead testing fees are processed through Western Oregon University. The forms below contain all the information and paperwork needed to submit for reimbursement.

Fillable forms are available on the Western Oregon University TRI website.

Reimbursement forms COMM-0265 and COMM-0266

Child Care Provider Lead Resources

OHA's brochure on how to provide a lead-safe child care environment:

Licensed Child Care:

Lead Testing Instructions (CEN-0019)
ORELAP Lead Testing Labs (CEN-0020)
Lead results (CEN-0017)
Alternative Water Declaration (CEN-0016)
Corrective Action Plan (CEN-0015)
Reimbursement for lead testing in licensed programs (COMM-0265)
Lead Testing for Programs Operating in a School Facility (CEN-0504)

Regulated Subsidy:

RS Lead Guidance (UnL-0228)
RS Alternative Water Declaration (UnL-0227)
Reimbursement for lead testing in Regulated Subsidy programs (COMM-0266)

Lead Testing for Young Children

A blood test is the only way to find out if a child has been exposed to lead. Signs of lead exposure or poisoning are not always easy to see. Many children who have lead poisoning look and act healthy. Because of this, lead poisoning may go unrecognized.

Children can get lead in their bodies by swallowing or breathing in dust that contains lead. Lead is a poison that affects every organ and system in the body. There is no function or need for lead. Very high levels of lead exposure can cause coma, seizures and death. Even a little lead can make children slower learners. Exposure to lead can cause:

  • Brain damage and lower intelligence
  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Impaired speech and language
  • Slowed growth
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Hearing damage

Ask Your Health Care Provider

Your health care provider will ask you some questions such as the ones from OHA’s Lead Poisoning Questionnaire to see if your child is at risk for lead poisoning. The only way to know for sure if your child has been exposed to lead is to have their blood tested. Blood tests are used to find out how much lead is in a child’s blood. The test is simple. In most cases just a finger prick then analysis is done.

Find Free Lead Screening Clinics in Multnomah County

Free blood lead level screening for children under 6 and pregnant women can be found at the Multnomah County’s Test Your Child for Lead page.

Lead Screening for Children Resources

CDC’s fact sheet with an update on blood lead levels in children.

Blood Lead Levels in Children (PDF)

OHA’s informational one-pager on blood lead test results for children and how to protect children from exposure to lead.

Understanding Your Child’s Lead Test (PDF)

General information about lead poisoning:

Questions about lead? The Multnomah County Health Department Lead Line is a state-wide resource for all Oregonians that provides lead prevention information and referrals.

Contact the Multnomah County Lead Line

EPA’s 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities.

Eco-Healthy Child Care FAQ on lead in drinking water.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) fact sheet with general lead poisoning prevention information.

CDC’s fact sheet with lead poisoning prevention information for pregnant women.

Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) comprehensive guide for anyone concerned about the dangers of lead in their home and environment. Learn how to protect your family from lead poisoning:

Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) brochure with information on the health effects of lead exposure, sources of lead and determine if your child is at risk for lead poisoning:

The most prevalent lead hazards in child care facilities are lead-based paint, lead dust and contaminated soil. Renovation, repair and maintenance of older homes and buildings, if not performed correctly, can create hazardous lead dust and debris by disturbing lead-based paint.