Data and Statistics
CDC uses available data and generates statistics to track progress towards the elimination of childhood lead poisoning in the United States. Further information on these data sources, access to national and state blood lead surveillance data, and additional resources are provided below.
CDC collaborated with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) to develop a national surveillance system for monitoring blood lead levels (BLLs) in the U.S. In 1995, elevated blood lead levels became the first non-infectious condition to be notifiable at the national level. This information is used to monitor individual case management and to identify local program needs and high-risk areas to target preventive interventions.
At the state or local level, the primary source of blood lead surveillance data is usually the state-based Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) and/or the state-based Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology & Surveillance (ABLES) program. These programs are responsible for collecting, managing, and reporting data to ensure that children and adults with elevated BLLs receive appropriate follow-up and management. CDC supports development of the Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Surveillance System (HHLPSS) as a data management platform for blood lead surveillance. Blood lead surveillance data are a valuable resource for program management; however, these data have limitations. First, data from these programs are restricted to individuals targeted for blood lead testing by health care providers. Because health care providers usually test children and adults at a high risk for lead exposure, the people tested are not representative of the entire U.S. population. Additionally, because state requirements for blood lead testing and reporting vary based on local conditions, these data are not comparable across locations or generalizable at the national, state, or local level.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is another source of data for estimating the number of children and adults with elevated BLLs. These surveys provide national estimates of the prevalence of elevated BLLs among children and adults over time, but cannot provide information at the state or local level. Also, these surveys do not directly measure incidence and the data cannot be used to follow short-term trends. NHANES blood lead data are used to monitor the nation’s progress in meeting the Healthy People objectives.
Definitions and classifications for blood lead surveillance data