Columbia, MD (January 4, 2012) – In a decision described as “historic,” an expert advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voted today to recommend a significant change in the level at which children are considered to have too much lead in their blood. The change will increase the number of children requiring medical care and follow-up environmental services from less than 100,000 to 450,000.
Currently, CDC recommends action at a blood lead level of 10 micrograms per deciliter. The new reference value, which is based on population blood lead levels, would focus action on those children with the highest blood lead levels (i.e. those above the 97.5th percentile). The revised value would be 5 micrograms per deciliter.
The ACCLLP statement also underscores the need to focus on prevention, since the damage caused by lead poisoning is irreversible. Older housing with lead-based paint, and the dust and soil it generates, are the key sources of exposure for children.
Perry Gottesfeld, executive director of Occupational Knowledge International and ACCLPP work group co-chair said, “Policy makers must now focus on establishing a credible response to children that are exposed to lead at these much lower levels that we know impact learning and behavior.”