Lead poisoning: Percent of children under 6 with elevated blood lead levels
Percent of young children with elevated blood lead levels (BLL > 5 ug/dL)
Why Is This Important?
The goal is to prevent childhood lead exposure before any harm occurs.
- Primary prevention – the removal of lead hazards from the environment before a child is exposed – is the most effective way to ensure that children do not experience harmful long-term effects of lead exposure.
- Secondary prevention – including blood lead testing and follow-up – remains an essential safety net for children who may already be exposed to lead.
A blood test is the best readily available way to measure exposure to lead. The amount of lead in blood is referred to as blood lead level which is measured in micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dL).
No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, the ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. The good news is that childhood lead poisoning is 100% preventable. (CDC)
Story Behind the Curve
CDC now uses a blood lead reference value of 5 micrograms per deciliter to identify children with blood lead levels that are much higher than most children’s levels. This new level is based on the U.S. population of children ages 1-5 years who are in the highest 2.5% of children when tested for lead in their blood.