CDC Updates Blood Lead Reference
Value to 3.5 µg/dL 
Lowering the blood lead reference value (BLRV) paves the way for children with blood lead levels between 3.5 μg/dL and 5 μg/dL to receive prompt actions to mitigate health effects and control sources of exposure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its BLRV from
5 µg/dL to 3.5 µg/dL in response to the Lead Exposure Prevention and Advisory Committee (LEPAC) recommendation made on May 14, 2021.

The BLRV is based on the 97.5th percentile of the blood lead level distribution among children 1 to 5 years old in the United States, from the two most recent cycles of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Thus, based on NHANES data from 20152018, CDC accepted the LEPAC’s recommendation to update the BLRV to 3.5 μg/dL.

CDC encourages healthcare providers to use the updated reference value to identify children at risk. CDC’s recommended actions based on blood lead level outline what you can do to treat children with blood lead levels that are higher than most U.S. children’s levels.

The following resources may provide some helpful information about the updated BLRV:
In addition, an MMWR Policy Note titled, “Update of the Blood Lead Reference Value — United States, 2021” is available at Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) | MMWR (

We invite you to share these updated resources with your partners and colleagues.

For questions or more information, contact
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