Medical Management of Lead-Exposed Adults
Despite a decrease in blood lead levels (BLL) in the general population, thousands of people in the U.S. still work under conditions that can cause BLLs high enough to harm their health. While lead poisoning does occur in adults outside the workplace,
most adults are exposed to lead on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lead standards provide some requirements for health professionals who care for lead-exposed workers, but they are based on outdated scientific information. Much has been learned about lead's harmful health effects since OSHA passed the first lead standard in 1978. As a result, the Occupational Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (OLPPP) has updated our own guidelines for health care professionals.
Medical Guidelines for Lead-Exposed Workers
OLPPP now considers a level of 5 µg/dL to be elevated in adults.
OLPPP recommends workers be removed from lead exposure if they have two BLLs of 20 µg/dL or higher or one BLL of 30 µg/dL.
If worker is pregnant, OLPPP recommends worker be removed from lead exposure at 5 µg/dL.
Depending on a worker's other health-related conditions, medical removal may be needed at lower BLLs.
For more information regarding medical management of lead-exposed workers, see the following OLPPP resources:
OLPPP publications for health care professionals here.
What Health Care Professionals need to know
OLPPP works to identify, mitigate, and prevent adult lead poisoning throughout California. OLPPP relies on the help of Health Care Providers to do this work through the following:
See our free CMEs, Overview of Adult Occupational Lead Poisoning in California, for recently updated information:
for occupational medicine providers |
for general practitioners.