ABLES is a state-based surveillance program of laboratory-reported adult blood lead levels funded by NIOSH in 40 states (as of 2010). The program's objective is to build state capacity to initiate, expand, or improve adult blood lead surveillance programs which can accurately measure trends in adult blood lead levels and which can effectively intervene to prevent lead over-exposures. The ABLES program aims to accomplish this objective by building state capacity to initiate or improve adult blood lead surveillance programs which can accurately measure trends in adult blood lead levels and which can effectively intervene to prevent lead over-exposures. ABLES states are required to have a mandatory state requirement that laboratories report blood lead level results to the state health department or designee. Starting in 2009, the ABLES case definition for elevated blood lead levels was changed from 25 µg to 10 µg/dL which is consistent with guidance from the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. CDC has also included in 2010, for the first time, elevated blood lead levels (defined as BLL =10 µg/dL) in the list of national notifiable conditions. Therefore, this measure uses the updated case definition of 10 µg/dL or greater.
Forty States reported 9,290 resident adults with elevated blood lead levels of 25 µg/dL or greater in 2008. The vast majority of elevated blood lead levels are work-related. Twenty-three States reported 17,572 resident adults with elevated blood lead levels of 10 µg/dL or greater in 2008. Despite important progress, overexposure to inorganic lead continues to be an important public health problem worldwide. Furthermore, recent research has increased concerns about the toxicity of lead at low doses.