Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Votes to Adopt New Recommendations to Reduce Childhood Lead Poisoning

The federal Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today voted to adopt new recommendations to reduce childhood lead poisoning. The recommendations are found here in a downloadable PDF document.  The CDC is expected to act on the Committee's recommendations within 90 days. If adopted, the new approach would eliminate the current blood lead "level of concern" level of 10 micrograms/deciliter. The standard would be replaced by a childhood BLL reference value of 5 micrograms/dL, based on the 97.5th percentile of the population BLL in children ages 1-5 to identify children and environments associated with lead-exposure hazards.

The Advisory Committee's recommendations are based on the weight of evidence that includes studies with a large number and diverse group of children with low BLLs and associated IQ deficits.  The Committee notes that adverse effects such as attention-related disorders and impaired academic achievement are reported at blood lead levels well below 10 micrograms/dL.  In addition, it reports new evidence that adverse health effects include cardiovascular, immunological, and endocrine effects. It concludes that "the absence of an identified BLL without deleterious effects combined with the evidence that these effects, in the absence of other interventions, appear to be irreversible, underscores the critical importance of primary prevention."

If the advisory committee's recommendations are adopted by the Centers for Disease Control, we can expect that a more stringent regulatory regime regarding environmental lead exposures will follow.