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The decline in blood lead levels in the United States. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES)
JAMA. 1994 Jul 27; 272(4):284-91.JAMA

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To describe trends in blood lead levels for the US population and selected population subgroups during the time period between 1976 and 1991.

DESIGN

Two nationally representative cross-sectional surveys and one cross-sectional survey representing Mexican Americans in the southwestern United States.

SETTING/PARTICIPANTS

Participants in two national surveys that included blood lead measurements: the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1976 to 1980 (n = 9832), and phase 1 of the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988 to 1991 (n = 12,119). Also, Mexican Americans participating in the Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1982 to 1984 (n = 5682).

RESULTS

The mean blood lead level of persons aged 1 to 74 years dropped 78%, from 0.62 to 0.14 mumol/L (12.8 to 2.8 micrograms/dL). Mean blood lead levels of children aged 1 to 5 years declined 77% (0.66 to 0.15 mumol/L [13.7 to 3.2 micrograms/dL]) for non-Hispanic white children and 72% (0.97 to 0.27 mumol/L [20.2 to 5.6 micrograms/dL]) for non-Hispanic black children. The prevalence of blood lead levels 0.48 mumol/L (10 micrograms/dL) or greater for children aged 1 to 5 years declined from 85.0% to 5.5% for non-Hispanic white children and from 97.7% to 20.6% for non-Hispanic black children. Similar declines were found in population subgroups defined by age, sex, race/ethnicity, income level, and urban status. Mexican Americans also showed similar declines in blood lead levels of a slightly smaller magnitude over a shorter time.

CONCLUSIONS

The results demonstrate a substantial decline in blood lead levels of the entire US population and within selected subgroups of the population. The major cause of the observed decline in blood lead levels is most likely the removal of 99.8% of lead from gasoline and the removal of lead from soldered cans. Although these data indicate major progress in reducing lead exposure, they also show that the same sociodemographic factors continue to be associated with higher blood lead levels, including younger age, male sex, non-Hispanic black race/ethnicity, and low income level. Future efforts to remove other lead sources (eg, paint, dust, and soil) are needed but will be more difficult than removing lead from gasoline and soldered cans.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Division of Environmental Health Laboratory Sciences, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333.No affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

8028141

Citation

Pirkle, J L., et al. "The Decline in Blood Lead Levels in the United States. the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES)." JAMA, vol. 272, no. 4, 1994, pp. 284-91.
Pirkle JL, Brody DJ, Gunter EW, et al. The decline in blood lead levels in the United States. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). JAMA. 1994;272(4):284-91.
Pirkle, J. L., Brody, D. J., Gunter, E. W., Kramer, R. A., Paschal, D. C., Flegal, K. M., & Matte, T. D. (1994). The decline in blood lead levels in the United States. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). JAMA, 272(4), 284-91.
Pirkle JL, et al. The Decline in Blood Lead Levels in the United States. the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). JAMA. 1994 Jul 27;272(4):284-91. PubMed PMID: 8028141.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - The decline in blood lead levels in the United States. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) AU - Pirkle,J L, AU - Brody,D J, AU - Gunter,E W, AU - Kramer,R A, AU - Paschal,D C, AU - Flegal,K M, AU - Matte,T D, PY - 1994/7/27/pubmed PY - 1994/7/27/medline PY - 1994/7/27/entrez SP - 284 EP - 91 JF - JAMA JO - JAMA VL - 272 IS - 4 N2 - OBJECTIVE: To describe trends in blood lead levels for the US population and selected population subgroups during the time period between 1976 and 1991. DESIGN: Two nationally representative cross-sectional surveys and one cross-sectional survey representing Mexican Americans in the southwestern United States. SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Participants in two national surveys that included blood lead measurements: the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1976 to 1980 (n = 9832), and phase 1 of the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988 to 1991 (n = 12,119). Also, Mexican Americans participating in the Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1982 to 1984 (n = 5682). RESULTS: The mean blood lead level of persons aged 1 to 74 years dropped 78%, from 0.62 to 0.14 mumol/L (12.8 to 2.8 micrograms/dL). Mean blood lead levels of children aged 1 to 5 years declined 77% (0.66 to 0.15 mumol/L [13.7 to 3.2 micrograms/dL]) for non-Hispanic white children and 72% (0.97 to 0.27 mumol/L [20.2 to 5.6 micrograms/dL]) for non-Hispanic black children. The prevalence of blood lead levels 0.48 mumol/L (10 micrograms/dL) or greater for children aged 1 to 5 years declined from 85.0% to 5.5% for non-Hispanic white children and from 97.7% to 20.6% for non-Hispanic black children. Similar declines were found in population subgroups defined by age, sex, race/ethnicity, income level, and urban status. Mexican Americans also showed similar declines in blood lead levels of a slightly smaller magnitude over a shorter time. CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate a substantial decline in blood lead levels of the entire US population and within selected subgroups of the population. The major cause of the observed decline in blood lead levels is most likely the removal of 99.8% of lead from gasoline and the removal of lead from soldered cans. Although these data indicate major progress in reducing lead exposure, they also show that the same sociodemographic factors continue to be associated with higher blood lead levels, including younger age, male sex, non-Hispanic black race/ethnicity, and low income level. Future efforts to remove other lead sources (eg, paint, dust, and soil) are needed but will be more difficult than removing lead from gasoline and soldered cans. SN - 0098-7484 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/8028141/The_decline_in_blood_lead_levels_in_the_United_States__The_National_Health_and_Nutrition_Examination_Surveys__NHANES_ DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -