Blood Lead Surveillance Data

CDC’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program compiles blood lead surveillance data for children <16 years of age who were tested at least once since January 1, 1997. The national surveillance system is composed of de-identified data from state and local health departments. CDC applies nationally consistent standard case definitions and classifications for blood lead surveillance data from all states. In addition, CDC applies rigorous error-checking and validation algorithms to the data submitted to ensure only one test per individual per year is counted. Therefore, the information available from CDC will not match data reports from the individual states because states may use different case definitions for clinical and environmental management.

State and local childhood lead poisoning prevention programs supported by cooperative agreements are required to provide childhood blood lead surveillance data to CDC; other programs may provide data on a voluntary basis.

Most states have laws that require clinical laboratories to report all blood lead levels to the state health department.  States maintain their own child-specific databases based on reports of blood lead tests from laboratories and health care providers, so that duplicate or sequential test results from individual children can be identified and resolved. These databases also contain information on children with elevated blood lead levels about clinical follow-up and environmental investigations into potential sources of lead exposure. States extract certain information from their child-specific surveillance databases and remove identifying information before transferring the data extract to CDC for inclusion in the national surveillance database.

Blood lead surveillance data are collected for program management purposes and, therefore, have some limitations. These data cannot be compared across states or counties because data collection methods vary and these are not generalizable at the national, state, or local level.

For information on adult blood lead surveillance data for individuals ≥ 16 years of age, please visit CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology & Surveillance (ABLES) Program.