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Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance -- United States, Third Quarter, 1995

CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance program (ABLES) monitors elevated blood lead levels (BLLs) among adults in the United States (1). This report presents ABLES data for the third quarter of 1995.

During July-September 1995, the 5410 reports of BLLs greater than or equal to 25 ug/dL represented a 14% decrease from the 6298 reports for the third quarter of 1994 (2). Compared with the third quarter of 1994, the number of reports for the same period in 1995 decreased 11% at the 25-39 ug/dL level, 29% at the 40-49 ug/dL level, and 11% at the 50-59 ug/dL level; they increased 23% at the greater than or equal to 60 ug/dL level. For the first three quarters of 1995, cumulative reports of BLLs greater than or equal to 25 ug/dL decreased by 4% from reports for the same period of 1994 (Table_1). The number of reports increased only at the lowest reporting level (25-39 ug/dL) and decreased at all higher reporting levels (40-49 ug/dL, 50-59 ug/dL, and greater than or equal to 60 ug/dL).

Compared with quarterly data for 1994, the number of reports increased at the highest blood lead level (greater than or equal to 60 ug/dL) by 4% (from 112 to 117) in the second quarter (3) and again by 23% (from 90 to 111) in the third quarter of 1995. Reports at all lower BLLs decreased in both quarters.

Reported by: JP Lofgren, MD, Alabama Dept of Public Health. C Fowler, MS, Arizona Dept of Health Svcs. S Payne, MA, Occupational Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, California Dept of Health Svcs. BC Jung, MPH, Connecticut Dept of Public Health and Addiction Svcs. M Lehnherr, Occupational Disease Registry, Div of Epidemiologic Studies, Illinois Dept of Public Health. R Gergely, Iowa Dept of Public Health. B Carvette, MPH, Occupational Health Program, Maine Bur of Health. E Keyvan-Larijani, MD, Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Maryland Dept of the Environment. R Rabin, MSPH, Div of Occupational Hygiene, Massachusetts Dept of Labor and Industries. M Scoblic, MN, Michigan Dept of Public Health. L Thistle-Elliott, MEd, Div of Public Health Svcs, New Hampshire State Dept of Health and Human Svcs. B Gerwel, MD, Occupational Disease Prevention Project, New Jersey State Dept of Health. R Stone, PhD, New York State Dept of Health. S Randolph, MSN, North Carolina Dept of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources. E Rhoades, MD, Oklahoma State Dept of Health. A Sandoval, MS, State Health Div, Oregon Dept of Human Resources. J Gostin, MS, Occupational Health Program, Div of Environmental Health, Pennsylvania Dept of Health. R Marino, MD, Div of Health Hazard Evaluations, South Carolina Dept of Health and Environmental Control. P Schnitzer, PhD, Bur of Epidemiology, Texas Dept of Health. K Blindauer, DVM, Bur of Epidemiology, Utah Dept of Health. L Toof, Div of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, Vermont Dept of Health. J Kaufman, MD, Washington State Dept of Labor and Industries. V Ingram-Stewart, MPH, Wisconsin Dept of Health and Social Svcs. Div of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: In contrast to previous reports, which documented a pattern of an increasing number of BLLs at lower levels and a decreasing number at higher levels, the findings in this report indicate a decrease at lower levels and an increase at higher levels. Variation in national quarterly reporting totals may result from 1) changes in the number of participating states; 2) timing of receipt of laboratory BLL reports by state-based surveillance programs; 3) changes in staffing and funding in state-based surveillance programs; and 4) interstate differences in worker BLL testing by lead-using industries. Variation from these sources reduces the capability to confidently identify trends in the actual data reported.

The findings in this report document the continuing hazard of work-related lead exposures as an occupational health problem in the United States. ABLES enhances surveillance for this preventable condition by expanding the number of participating states, reducing variability in reporting, and distinguishing between new and recurring elevated BLLs in adults.

References

  1. CDC. Surveillance of elevated blood lead levels among adults -- United States, 1992. MMWR 1992;41:285-8.

  2. CDC. Adult blood lead epidemiology and surveillance -- United States, third quarter, 1994. MMWR 1994;44:36-7.

  3. CDC. Adult blood lead epidemiology and surveillance -- United States, second quarter, 1995. MMWR 1995;44,801-2.



Table_1
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TABLE 1. Number of reports of elevated blood lead levels (BLLs) among adults, number of adults
with elevated BLLs, and percentage change in number of reports -- 23 states, * third quarter, 1995
====================================================================================================
                 Third quarter, 1995
Reported BLL  ---------------------------   Cumulative     Cumulative        % change
  (ug/dL)     No. reports + No. persons &  reports, 1995  reports, 1994 @  1994 to 1995
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
25-39            4,151         3,318         13,458         13,311            + 1%
40-49              941           702          3,290          4,077            -19%
50-59              207           141            660            773            -15%
 >=60              111            72            310            319            - 3%

Total            5,410         4,233         17,718         18,480            - 4%
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,
  Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania,
  South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
+ Data for Alabama, Arizona, and South Carolina were missing; third quarter 1994 data were used as
  an estimate.
& Individual reports are categorized according to the highest reported BLL for the person during
  the given quarter. Pennsylvania provides the number of reports but not the number of persons;
  the numbers of persons for Pennsylvania in this table are estimates based on the proportions from
  the other 22 states combined and the number of reports received from Pennsylvania. Data for
  Alabama, Arizona, and South Carolina were missing; third quarter 1994 data were used as an
  estimate.
@ Data for the third quarter of 1994 include data for Maine, which were not previously included
  in the published report (2).
====================================================================================================

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