NIOSH Offers Lead Overexposure Data Source

The online page allows users to track the trend lines for elevated blood lead levels in adult workers from 2002 through 2008 in construction, manufacturing, mining, and service industries.

NIOSH on Wednesday posted an online interactive source page that will help users identify overexposures to lead, according to the agency. The online page allows them to track the trend lines for elevated blood lead levels in adult workers from 2002 through 2008 in construction, manufacturing, mining, and service industries.

The benchmark for overexposure was a level at or above 25 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood from 1994 through 2005. CDC now uses 10 micrograms as the benchmark and will update the resource accordingly.

Its data are cases reported by 40 states under the NIOSH-funded Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) program, which began in 1987. Elevated blood lead levels can damage the body's nervous, hematologic, reproductive, renal, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems; most cases are work-related, according to NIOSH, which said U.S. rates of elevated blood lead cases fell by 47 percent from 1994 to 2005. Health effects are associated even with lower lead exposures, it noted.

"With this new web page, we are pleased to make data from the ABLES program more accessible, more understandable, and more useful to our partners as a tool for protecting workers' health," NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard said. "Although the U.S. has made great progress in controlling work-related lead exposures since the enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, we must remain vigilant in recognizing and addressing this occupational hazard."

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