WHO publishes guidance aiming to reduce illness due to lead exposure

02 November 2021

Article: 55/4407

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new guidance to support healthcare providers recognise and deliver care to individuals who have been exposed to lead. The new guidance recommends a blood lead concentration of five micrograms per decilitre (μg/dL) as a trigger for a thorough review of the ways in which a person is being exposed to lead, and for action to reduce or end this exposure. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report that one-in-three children are estimated to have blood lead levels in excess of the 5μg/dL threshold.

The aim of the guidelines is to assist healthcare providers in making decisions about the diagnosis and treatment of lead exposure for individual patients and in mass poisoning incidents. The guidelines present evidence-informed recommendations on the:

  • interpretation of blood lead concentrations 
  • use of gastrointestinal decontamination 
  • use of a chelating agent 
  • use of nutritional supplements

Source: WHO, 27 October 2021