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Bureau of Lead Poisoning Prevention

Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES)

The Iowa Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) is a program in the Iowa Department of Public Health Environmental Health Division that helps employers, workers, medical providers, and families learn about the risks of Iowa adult lead exposure in the workplace, community, or at home.

Iowa Department of Public Health ABLES

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The IDPH ABLES Program collects all blood lead test results for Iowa adults 16 years of age or older as required by Iowa Administrative Code 641: Chapter 1. This information is used to report:

  • The number of Iowa adults with lead exposure
  • How Iowa adults get exposed
  • Progress on objectives stated in Healthy Iowans: Iowans Health Improvement Plan 2012-2016

The program also helps clinical laboratories and medical providers comply with adult blood lead reporting requirements .

Finally, the program provides resources:

  • For doctors, nurses, and other medical providers who care for lead-exposed adults
  • For Iowans to help them avoid lead exposure on or off the job
  • For workers to prevent “take-home lead” that can expose families
  • For employers and workers to improve work-site lead safety practices, especially for low-level chronic exposures
  • Periodic email updates. Send a blank email to join the IDPH OHSSP email list.

Did You Know?

In 2013, there were 3,173 Iowa adults tested:

  • The range of blood lead tests results in 2013 was <1 to 73 mcg/dL. The range in 2012 was <1 to 97 mcg/dL.
  • The US adult BLL average is estimated to be 1.2 mcg/dL.

A BLL of 10 mcg/dL or higher is currently considered elevated for adults. In 2013, there were:

  • 856 Iowa adults with BLLs of 10 mcg/dL or higher (818 in 2012).
  • 202 Iowa adults had BLLs of 25 mcg/dL or higher (196 in 2012).
  • 19 Iowa adults had BLLs of 40 mcg/dL or higher (22 in 2012).

Iowa continues to be one of the top 7 states for adult lead exposure by rate.

  • 2011 rates: US = 6.4 compared to IA = 15.3 EBL/100,000 employed persons with an elevated blood level (EBL) of 25 mcg/dL or higher.