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Last Updated: February 20, 2019


Lead: Blood Lead Levels

Image: Journal of Clinical Investigation, adapted from Bellinger and Bellinger 2006

Big idea: We are most concerned about the impacts of lead on young children and pregnant women.

Talking points:

  • National data: 535,000 US children ages 1 to 5 years have BLLs high enough to damage their health
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses a reference level of 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dL) to identify children whose blood lead levels are much higher than most children’s levels and recommend initiation of public health actions. (The reference level, prior to 2016, was 10 μg/dL.)
  • No safe blood lead level in children has been identified.

Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. Lead toxicity physiologic effects. 
President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children, 2016

Categories: Lead