CDC urged to alter lead poisoning definition


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The Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention has recently recommended that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should lower its definition of what constitutes lead poisoning in children. Currently, those with a level of 10 μg/dL (10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood) or above are diagnosed with lead poisoning. The proposal would lower that level to 5 μg/dL.

Under the current definition, about 250,000 U.S. children ages 1 to 5 have an elevated blood lead level (BLL). If the recommendation is adopted, about 450,000 U.S. children would be diagnosed.

The report also urges a strategy of primary prevention, which stresses prevention rather than a reaction once a child is already exposed.

According to the CDC, lead poisoning can affect almost every system in the body. Although children who have been exposed often show no obvious symptoms, lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems and, at very high levels, seizures, coma and even death.

Houses built before 1978 likely contain lead-based paint, since lead-based paints weren’t banned in housing until then. An estimated 24 million housing units have deteriorated leaded paint and lead-contaminated house dust, according to the CDC.

Click here for tips to prevent lead poisoning.