The General Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report criticizing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for appearing to lack a policy to monitor the use of or clarify information in public health publications. As an example, the April 4, 2011, report cites an article the agency wrote for an April 2004 edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that “inaccurately stated” that no children in Washington, D.C., had blood lead levels of concern, when in fact some children’s blood levels exceeded CDC’s level of concern. The report finds that CDC made no effort to clarify inaccurate information in the 2004 article until six years later when the agency published a series of follow-up articles.

The report recommends that CDC (i) publish an article providing a comprehensive overview of tap water as a source of lead exposure and communicating the potential health effects on children, (ii) develop procedures to improve the clarity of information in its public health communications, and (iii) develop procedures to quickly address any confusion in public health communications after publication.