Elevated blood lead in California adults, 1987: Results of a statewide surveillance program based on laboratory reports

N. Maizlish, L. Rudolph, P. Sutton, J. R. Jones, Kenneth W Kizer

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California medical laboratories that test for blood lead are required to report results exceeding 1.21 μmol/L (25 μg/dl). Between April and December 1987, the California Department of Health Services received 3,077 blood lead reports from 34 laboratories for 1,293 civilian, non-institutionalized adults. Approximately 1 percent of all reports exceeded 3.87 μmol/L (80 μg/dl), 7 percent exceeded 2.42 μmol/L (50 μg/dl), and 21 percent exceeded 1.93 μmol/L (40 μg/dl). Individuals tested were overwhelmingly male (94 percent), disproportionately Hispanic surnamed (44 percent), and most often residents of Los Angeles County (81 percent). Workers in lead smelting, battery manufacturing, and brass foundries accounted for nearly 80 percent of reports. Construction, radiator repair, pottery and ceramics manufacturing, and gun firing ranges accounted for the remainder. All adults with reports of ≥2.90 μmol/L who were contacted reported an occupational exposure. Approximately half were not in routien medical monitoring programs. Despire OSHA standards, elevated blood lead with the potential for serious acute and chronic lead poisoning in California adults remains a significant public health and major occupational health concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)931-934
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1990


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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