Community characteristics associated with elevated blood lead levels in children

Bruce P. Lanphear, Robert S Byrd, Peggy Auinger, Stanley J. Schaffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

85 Scopus citations


Objectives. To identify community characteristics associated with children having elevated blood lead levels (≤10 μg/dL) and examine whether these characteristics can be used to identify children with elevated blood lead levels. Participants and Setting. A total of 20 296 children in Monroe County, New York (<6 years old) who had blood lead testing in the first 12 months after statewide mandated reporting of blood lead tests began. Design. A logistic regression analysis was conducted to examine the association of children's blood lead levels and community characteristics by using community characteristics of 653 census block groups. Results. The following community level variables were associated with increased risk of elevated blood lead levels in children: residence within the city [odds ratio (OR), 2.0; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.6, 2.7]; block groups with a higher proportion of individuals of Black race (OR, 1.6; CI, 1.4, 2.0); higher screening rate (OR, 1.9; CI, 1.6, 2.4); lower housing value (OR, 1.6; CI, 1.2, 2.0); housing built before 1950 (OR, 1.5; CI, 1.3, 1.8); higher population density (OR, 1.5; CI, 1.3, 1.8); higher rates of poverty (OR, 1.4; CI, 1.2, 1.8); lower percent of high school graduates (OR, 1.3; CI, 1.1, 1.6), and lower rates of owner-occupied housing (OR, 1.2; CI, 1.0, 1.4). Community characteristics were comparable with clinic-based individual risk assessment to identify children with elevated blood lead levels. Conclusions. These data demonstrate that community characteristics can be used to develop screening strategies to identify children who have elevated blood lead levels and shift our efforts toward identifying houses containing lead hazards before occupancy and before children are unduly exposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-271
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes



  • Blood lead
  • Census block group
  • Children
  • Community characteristics
  • Epidemiology
  • Lead poisoning
  • Prevention
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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