Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance
Adult lead poisoning is often associated with occupational exposure. Participation in hobbies where lead exposure is high, such as recreational indoor shooting, hunting, and fishing, increases the risk of adult lead exposure. The current Pennsylvania Adult Blood Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) program collects all blood lead test results for adults 16 years of age or older in PA with a blood lead level of 5 μg/dL or greater. This information is used to report the number of adults in Pennsylvania with elevated blood lead levels and their source of lead exposure.
Aging housing and water infrastructure are also relevant for lead poisoning but more so for children. According to the 2021 American Community Survey 5-year estimates, sixty-six percent of Pennsylvania homes were built before 1978 and seventy-five percent were built before 1986. These were the years the federal government banned the use of lead-based paint and lead in pipe and solder in public water lines. DOH operates a second program for
childhood lead poisoning.
The Division of Environmental Health Epidemiology (DEHE) at the PA DOH has developed an interactive dashboard for the ABLES program to display public health data pertaining to adult workers who are exposed to lead in Pennsylvania. The ABLES Dashboard serves as a tool to monitor industries and demographic populations where adult lead exposure is high. Please view the ABLES Dashboard Technical Guidance Manual below for additional information on the ABLES Dashboard, instructions for use, and frequently asked questions.
Adult Lead Surveillance
The ABLES program has developed a survey tool to expand our knowledge of workplace and non-workplace lead exposure. This tool includes web-based and phone interviews of individuals that have been exposed to lead. Information collected from interviews will be used to identify target industries for future outreach and education initiatives. Please see the materials below for additional information on our adult blood lead surveillance project.