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CSTE Leads Effort to Improve Blood Lead Reporting
Date:6/15/2009

ATLANTA, June 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Citing evidence that even a very low level of blood lead is a significant health risk at any age, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) is recommending a change in the case definition of elevated blood lead levels in adults. In a vote at the CSTE annual conference in Buffalo, NY, State Epidemiologists approved a proposal to consider blood levels of 10 ug/dl or more in adults as "elevated" -- the same standard as currently exists for children.

Studies show that blood lead levels as low as 10 ug/dl contribute to an elevation in blood pressure and attendant health risks, including stroke. Low blood levels also are associated with an increase in mortality from heart disease, decreased kidney function and changes in cognition.

"Having this additional data will allow researchers, epidemiologists and the public to know more about the burden of lead poisoning across the age spectrum," CSTE President Mel Kohn, M.D., M.D.H. said. "While we often think of lead poisoning as a health concern in children and pregnant women, we need to address how lead poisoning is affecting adults, from exposure in the workplace and from hobbies such as target shooting."

The risk of lead poisoning is especially pronounced among workers in certain industries, including lead refining and smelting; construction work involving paint removal; manufacture of bronze and brass products such as plumbing fixtures; demolition and maintenance of outdoor metal structures such as bridges and water towers; and battery manufacturing and recycling.

Many occupational exposures are not identified because not all employers do the required occupational testing. Compounding the problem is the fact that only a fraction of known occupational cases are included in national health statistics, which currently only include counts of individuals with blood lead levels 25 ug/dl and gr
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SOURCE Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists
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