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June 23/30, 1999

Reducing Blood Lead Levels: Benefits and Strategies

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga.

JAMA. 1999;281(24):2340-2342. doi:10.1001/jama.281.24.2340

Despite dramatic reductions in population lead exposure over the past 2 decades, nearly 900,000 US children younger than 6 years still have elevated blood lead levels (≥0.483 µmol/L [≥10 µg/dL]).1,2 The problem disproportionately affects low-income children living in older dwellings. Available data suggest that subtle health effects, such as lower IQ scores in children, may extend to blood lead levels well below the 0.483-µmol/L (10-µg/dL) threshold.3 While not as well studied, an association between blood lead levels in this range and cognitive function of middle-aged and elderly men has also been reported.4 Further research may continue to redefine what constitutes an entirely "safe" level.