Lead exposure can result in acute or chronic adverse effects in multiple organ systems, ranging from subclinical changes in function to symptomatic, life-threatening toxicity. Despite improvements in public health policies and substantial reductions in blood lead levels (BLLs) in adults, lead exposure remains an important health problem worldwide. Approximately 95 percent of all elevated BLLs reported among adults in the United States are work-related (1), and recent research has raised concerns regarding the toxicity of BLLs as low as 5 microg/dL (2,3). CDC's state-based Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) program tracks laboratory-reported elevated BLLs. To update rate trends and identify industry subsectors and nonoccupational activities with high lead exposures, CDC collected and analyzed 2008-2009 data from 40 state ABLES programs. The results of that analysis indicated that a decline in the prevalence of elevated BLLs (greater than/equal to 25 microg/dL) was extended, from 14.0 per 100,000 employed adults in 1994 to 6.3 in 2009. Industry subsectors with the highest numbers of lead-exposed workers were battery manufacturing, secondary smelting and refining of nonferrous metals, and painting and paper hanging. The most common nonoccupational exposures to lead were shooting firearms; remodeling, renovating, or painting; retained bullets (gunshot wounds); and lead casting. The findings underscore the need for government agencies, employers, public health professionals, health-care providers, and worker-affiliated organizations to increase interventions to prevent workplace lead exposure, and the importance of conducting lead exposure surveillance to assess the effectiveness of these interventions.
Blood-analysis; Blood-samples; Blood-sampling; Lead-absorption; Lead-compounds; Humans; Body-burden; Surveillance-programs; Public-health; Employee-exposure; Industrial-exposures; Toxic-dose; Toxic-effects; Metals; Battery-manufacturing-industry; Smelters; Smelting; Refineries; Metal-refining; Painting; Paints; Paper-milling; Paper-mills; Construction-materials; Lead-production; Lead-smelting; Heavy-metals