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Lead: Topic Home

Childhood Lead Poisoning

Approximately 500,000 U.S. children aged 1-5 years with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated. Lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead poisoning often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and, at very high levels, seizures, coma, and even death.

CDC’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is committed to the Healthy People (http://www.healthypeople.gov/) goal of eliminating elevated blood lead levels in children by 2010. CDC continues to assist state and local childhood lead poisoning prevention programs, to provide a scientific basis for policy decisions, and to ensure that health issues are addressed in decisions about housing and the environment.

Lead in the Workplace

Workers can be exposed to lead through inhalation of fumes and dusts, as well as through ingestion as a result of lead-contaminated hands, food, drinks, cosmetics, tobacco products, and clothing. Furthermore, workers can take lead home on their clothes, skin, hair, tools, and in their vehicles , potentially exposing their families to harmful health effects.

Lead in the Environment

ATSDR is directed by congressional mandate to perform specific functions concerning the effect on public health of hazardous substances in the environment, including lead. These functions include public health assessments of waste sites, health consultations concerning specific hazardous substances, health surveillance and registries, response to emergency releases of hazardous substances, applied research in support of public health assessments, information development and dissemination, and education and training concerning hazardous substances.

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