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Medical News & Perspectives
February 1, 2012

Panel Advises Tougher Limits on Lead Exposure

JAMA. 2012;307(5):445. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.50

The current threshold for harmful lead exposure in children should be cut in half and other steps should be taken to prevent children from ever being exposed to lead, according to the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention, a group that advises the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Interventions aimed at reducing children's exposure to lead, such as the removal of lead from gasoline and paint, have resulted in drastic reductions in the number of children classified as having harmful levels of lead in their blood. Using the existing threshold of harmful lead exposure (10 μg/dL), CDC scientists found the prevalence of lead poisoning among children decreased from 8.6% to 1.4% over the past 2 decades (Jones RL et al. Pediatrics. 2009;123:e376-e38). Substantial racial disparities in exposure persist, however.