What is the focus of primary prevention of lead toxicity?

Updated: Jan 16, 2020
  • Author: Pranay Kathuria, MD, FACP, FASN, FNKF; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
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The 2010 Healthy People objective to eliminate childhood lead poisoning can be achieved through primary prevention. Pediatricians and family practitioners provide a fundamental role with anticipatory guidance about potential sources of lead exposure and its hazards for the development of children.

A successful primary prevention should focus on the 2 main exposure sources for children in the United States: lead in housing and nonessential uses of lead in certain products, such as imported and domestically manufactured toys, eating and drinking utensils, cosmetics, and traditional medicines.

Environmental measures for prevention of lead toxicity include abatement of lead paint usage, removal of lead from gasoline, and removal of lead solder from cans. Lead abatement in dwellings must be performed by skilled and experienced workers.

For adults, occupational measures focus on engineering controls, such as isolation by containment and local exhaust systems, personal protective equipment (eg, respirators), and good work practices. Workers should be educated regarding the health risks of lead and sources that may cause poisoning.

OSHA standards should be followed in the workplace. These standards for permissible exposure limit lead in the workplace to a maximum of 50 µg/m3 of air averaged over an 8-hour period. Medical surveillance is indicated when workers are exposed to lead levels exceeding 30 µg/m3 for more than 30 days a year (regardless of respiratory protection).

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