Blood lead level

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Blood lead level (BLL), is a measure of lead in the blood. It is measured in micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dL); 10 µg/dL is equivalent to 0.48 micromoles per liter (µmol/L).[1]


Exposure to lead occurs through ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact. When exposed to lead, lead enters one’s bloodstream and elevates their blood lead level that results to lead poisoning or an elevated blood lead level.[2] A major source of exposure to lead comes from inhalation. Factories and industries, vehicles exhausts, and even dust in the air that people breathe all have the potential of containing lead. Other major sources of lead exposure also include ingestion and contact with products such as paint and soil that may contain lead as well. Many older claw foot bathtubs have also been found to leach lead, especially when filled with warm bath water.[3]

Health effects[edit]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that a BLL of 5 μg/dL or above is a cause for concern in children. However, lead can impair development even at BLLs below 5 μg/dL.[4] Adults that are exposed to a dangerous amount of lead can experience anemia, nervous system dysfunction, weakness, hypertension, kidney problems, decreased fertility and increased level of miscarriages, and low birth weight and premature deliveries.[3] Children exposed to high levels of lead show similar symptoms, including anemia, kidney damage, colic, neurological impairment, and impaired vitamin D metabolism.[3] However children are susceptible to damage from lead exposure at lower levels than adults, and neurological impairment can occur in children with blood lead levels <10 µg/dL. Neurological impairment or delay, growth retardation, and delayed sexual maturation as a result of lead exposure may even affect children as they mature to adulthood.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^[dead link] Government of New South Wales, Australia: Blood lead levels in Broken Hill children
  2. ^ Stellman, Jeanne Mager (1998). Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety. International Labour Organization. pp. 81.2–81.4.
  3. ^ a b c d Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (August 2007). "ATSDR Toxicological Profile for Lead" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  4. ^


  • Kosnett MJ, Wedeen RP, Rothenberg SJ, Hipkins KL, Materna BL, Schwartz BS, et al. 2007. Recommendations for Medical Management of Adult Lead Exposure. Environ Health Perspect 115: pg.463-471.
  • Shurke, Judy. "Adult Blood Lead Levels." SHARP. Washington State Department of Labor, 2010. Web. 14 Nov. 2010.
  • Voorhis, Nancy. "Lead-Elevated Blood Lead Levels in Children." Virginia Department of Health. 14 Jan. 2008. Web. 14 Nov. 2010.