Below is a summary of a health advisory from the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued on 1/27/22:
- CDC updated its blood lead reference value (BLRV) from 5 µg/dL to 3.5 µg/dL in response to the Lead Exposure Prevention and Advisory Committee (LEPAC) recommendation made on May 14, 2021.
- The BLRV is based on the 97.5th percentile of the blood lead level (BLL) distribution among children 1-5 years old in the U.S. from the two most recent cycles of data (i.e., 2015-2018) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Thus, based on NHANES data, CDC accepted the LEPAC recommendation to update the BLRV to 3.5 μg/dL.
- No blood lead level is safe. Exposure to lead, even at low levels, can cause intellectual, behavioral, and academic deficits.
- PA DOH adopted the new lower BLRV on January 1, 2022, and is encouraging all county municipal health departments, lead prevention partners, and health care providers to use the lowered reference value of 3.5 ug/dl to determine the blood lead level required for case management and environmental investigation.
- Health care providers should follow CDC’s recommended actions based on the BLL in children with BLLs at 3.5 ug/dl or above. CDC – Lead – Recommended Actions Based on Blood Lead Levels
- This update will likely cause some changes in lead prevention programs, as well as clinicians, laboratories, and caregivers of young children in your communities. We are available to support you in this transition. Please call DOH at 1-877-PA-HEALTH if you have any questions.