Interpreting and managing blood lead levels < 10 microg/dL in children and reducing childhood exposures to lead: recommendations of CDC's Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention

MMWR Recomm Rep. 2007 Nov 2;56(RR-8):1-16.


Lead is a common environmental contaminant, and exposure to lead is a preventable risk that exists in all areas of the United States. Lead is associated with negative outcomes in children, including impaired cognitive, motor, behavioral, and physical abilities. In 1991, CDC defined the blood lead level (BLL) that should prompt public health actions as 10 microg/dL. Concurrently, CDC also recognized that a BLL of 10 microg/dL did not define a threshold for the harmful effects of lead. Research conducted since 1991 has strengthened the evidence that children's physical and mental development can be affected at BLLs < or =10 microg/dL. This report summarizes the findings of a review of clinical interpretation and management of BLLs < or =10 microg/dL conducted by CDC's Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention. This report provides information to help clinicians understand BLLs < or =10 microg/dL, identifies gaps in knowledge concerning lead levels in this range, and outlines strategies to reduce childhood exposures to lead. In addition, this report summarizes scientific data relevant to counseling, blood lead screening, and lead exposure risk assessment. To aid in the interpretation of BLLs, clinicians should understand the laboratory error range for blood lead values and, if possible, select a laboratory that achieves routine performance within +/-2 microg/dL. Clinicians should obtain an environmental history on all children they examine, provide families with lead prevention counseling, and follow blood lead screening recommendations established for their areas. As local and patient circumstances permit, clinicians should consider early referral to developmental programs for children at high risk for exposure to lead and consider more frequent rescreening of children with BLLs approaching 10 microg/dL, depending on the potential for exposure to lead, child age, and season of testing. In addition, clinicians should direct parents to agencies and sources of information that will help them establish a lead-safe environment for their children. For these preventive strategies to succeed, partnerships between health-care providers, families, and local public health and housing programs should be strengthened.

Publication types

  • Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lead / blood*
  • Lead Poisoning / diagnosis
  • Lead Poisoning / prevention & control*
  • Mass Screening
  • Risk Assessment
  • United States


  • Lead