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Medical Management of Lead-Exposed Adults

Background and Purpose

Lead poisoning continues to be a significant problem in the U.S. and elsewhere. While lead poisoning does occur in adults outside the workplace, most adults are exposed to lead on the job. Despite a decrease in blood lead levels in the general population, thousands of men and women in the U.S. still work under conditions that can cause blood lead levels high enough to harm their health.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lead standards provide some guidance for health professionals who care for lead-exposed workers. Much has been learned about lead’s harmful health effects since OSHA passed the first lead standard in 1978. Medical care needs to be based on this new information. In response to this need, California’s Occupational Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (OLPPP) participated in an expert panel review of the scientific literature on lead and health.  As a result of this effort, the Recommendations for the Medical Management of Adult lead Exposure (PDF)Opens in a new browser windowwere published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in March 2007. Using these recommendations, OLPPP has updated our own guidelines for health care providers, Medical Guidelines for the Lead-Exposed WorkerOpens in new browser window.

The purpose of this effort is to provide health-based guidance for clinicians caring for lead-exposed adults. The ultimate goal is to prevent health damage caused by exposure to lead.



  • Collaborated with medical experts to publish health-based recommendations for the care of lead-exposed adults;
  • Prepared updated medical guidelines for health care providers who care for lead-exposed adults;
  • Developed an online course for health care providers, Overview of Adult Occupational Lead Poisoning in California, with free continuing medical education units (CMEs). Note: Course was updated in 2016.
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Last modified on: 8/10/2016 9:27 AM