To the Editor.
—Deaths due to lead poisoning reportedly have dramatically decreased in the United States since the 1960s1; however, recent national estimates of the number and distribution of such deaths have not been published.We used computerized data tapes from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)2,3 to identify deaths occurring from 1979 through 1988 for which lead poisoning was listed as an underlying or contributing cause. We selected records that included International Classification of Dis-eases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9)4 codes specific for lead (984, 984.0, 984.1, 984.8, 984.9, E861.5, and E866.0) or heavy metals (961.2 and E931.2). To confirm a diagnosis of lead poisoning, we requested a copy of the original death certificate for the selected records from the vital records department with jurisdiction for the location where the death occurred.The ICD-9 codes of interest appeared in 166 records in the NCHS death tapes
Staes C, Matte T, Rosenblum L, Binder S. Lead Poisoning Deaths in the United States, 1979 Through 1988. JAMA. 1995;273(11):847-848. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520350029022