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Lead: new levels of concern.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has lowered its "threshold of concern" for blood lead levels, citing mounting evidence that levels previously believed safe can cause developmental disorders in children.

In 1985, CDC revised its definition of lead poisoning from 30 to 25 micrograms of lead per deciliter ([micrograms]/dl) of whole blood. Last week, the federal agency announced an expanded definition that specifies several "levels of concern" and recommends actions for each level. ?For instance, it now advises government agencies to launch lead-awareness campaigns in communities where many children have blood lead levels of 10 [micrograms]/dl or higher. And when blood lead reaches 20, CDC recommends medical evaluation and removal of the lead source.

In 1986, an internal EPA staff report proposed lowering the threshold of concern because studies indicated that even lead levels below 20 [micrograms]/dl could cause women to deliver low birthweight babies, and result in IQ deficits and slow neuromotor development in children (SN: 9/13/86, p.164; 11/22/86, p.333). Other recent research has suggested that such levels can impair children's hearing and raise blood pressure in adults (SN: 12/20&27/86, p.390; 9/3/88, p.158).

CDC urges blood lead screening for children under age 6, one-fifth of whom have levels exceeding 10 [micrograms]/dl, it estimates.
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Title Annotation:Centers for Disease Control and lead levels in children
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 19, 1991
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