Lead Poisoning Cases Nearly Double Following Revised Threshold: CDC

The number of children in the United States that are now considered to have lead poisoning has doubled to more than half a million, according to federal health officials. 

The increase does not represent an actual spike in lead exposure, but instead reflects a change in the levels of lead in the blood that are now considered dangerous.

In a report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on April 5, researchers factored in a change made last year to the “level of concern” for blood lead levels in children, which dropped from 10 micrograms per deciliter to five.

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Lead Poisoning Lawsuits

Children diagnosed with lead poisoning after exposure to peeling or chipping lead paint in a rental home may be entitled to financial compensation and benefits.


According to calculations using those new numbers, the CDC estimates that 535,000 children ages 1-5, or about 2.6% of such children in the U.S., have levels of lead in their blood that place them at risk for adverse health effects. To come up with that number, the CDC analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from the years 1999 to 2002, and 2007 through 2010.

Lead poisoning for children can result in nervous system injury, brain damage, seizures or convulsions, growth or mental retardation, coma and even death for young children.

One of the more common causes of of lead poisoning is lead-based paint, which was banned in the United States 1978 due to the risk of severe and permanent brain damage and developmental problems, particularly in children. However, a number of older homes still contain the toxic paint on the walls, and if it flakes or peals off, young children could ingest the paint chips or breathe dust that comes from the paint, resulting in lead poisoning.

Despite the latest reassessment doubling the number of children considered at risk, the CDC acknowledged that the country had made significant progress in addressing lead poisoning exposure to children from lead paint and other sources. The most significant reductions have been among ethnicities and income groups that were most at risk, the CDC reported.

“These reductions reflect the impact of strategies coordinated and implemented at national, state, and local levels,” the report states. “They include elimination of lead in vehicle emissions, elimination of lead paint hazards in housing, reduction in lead concentrations in air, water, and consumer products marketed to children, and identification and increased screening of populations at high risk.”


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