Elevated Blood Lead Levels in Adults on the Wane

But some industries and activities still associated with overexposure to lead

FRIDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- The presence of elevated adult blood lead levels (BLLs) has fallen overall since the mid-1990s, but the highest prevalence of elevated BLLs is found in the manufacturing, construction, and mining industries, according to a report published in the July 1 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Walter A. Alarcon, M.D., of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed 2008 to 2009 data from Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance programs in 40 states to assess trends and identify areas and activities associated with high adult BLLs.

The researchers found that, from 1994 to 2009, the prevalence of adult BLLs equal to or greater than 25 µg/dL fell from 14.0 to 6.3 per 100,000 employed adults. Industry subsectors most associated with elevated BLLs included battery manufacturing, secondary smelting, refining of nonferrous metals, and painting and paper hanging. Outside the workplace, elevated BLLs were associated with discharging firearms; remodeling, renovating, and painting; 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," the authors write.

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