Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES)

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Lead Exposure in Adults

Ninety-four percent of adults with elevated blood lead levels (BLLs) are exposed to lead in the workplace. Adults with elevated BLLs can experience anemia, nervous system dysfunction, kidney problems, hypertension, decreased fertility, and an increased risk of miscarriages. They may also be inadvertently exposing their families to lead by bringing lead dust home from their workplace.  Approximately 2-3 percent of children with BLLs of 10ug/dl or greater were exposed to lead this way.

Surveillance of
Adult Lead Results


Wisconsin requires that all laboratory lead tests be reported to the Department of Health Services (DHS) so that patterns and trends can be identified. The ABLES program, located in the Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health (BEOH), is responsible for analysis of adult lead test data. 

Protecting Workers


Information gained from test results is used on a state and national level to target workplaces, industries and occupations where elevated BLLs occur. The ABLES program delivers primary prevention through education of workers and their employers, provides health guidance and support to workers exposed to lead, and offers employer referrals to discover the source of exposure.

Last Revised: June 19, 2015