Lead-contaminated house dust and urban children's blood lead levels

Bruce P. Lanphear, M. D. Michael Weitzman, Nancy L. Winter, Shirley Eberly, Benjamin Yakir, Martin Tanner, Maiy Emond, Thomas D. Matte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives. This study assessed the relationship between lead- contaminated house dust and urban children's blood lead levels. Methods. A random-sample survey was used to identify and enroll 205 children, 12 to 31 months of age, who had resided in the same house since at least 6 months of age. Children's blood and household dust, water, soil, and paint were analyzed for lead, and interviews were conducted to ascertain risk factors for elevated blood lead (≤ 10 μg/dL). Results. Children's mean blood lead level was 7.7 μg/dL. In addition to dust lead loading (micrograms of lead per square foot), independent predictors of children's blood lead were Black race, soil lead levels, ingestion of soil or dirt, lead content and condition of painted surfaces, and water lead levels. For dust lead standards of 5 μg/sq ft, 20 μg/sq ft, and 40 μg/sq ft on noncarpeted floors, the estimated percentages of children having blood lead levels at or above 10 μg/dL were 4%, 15%, and 20%, respectively, after adjusting for other significant covariates. Conclusions. Lead-contaminated house dust is a significant contributor to lead intake among urban children who have low- level elevations in blood lead. A substantial proportion of children may have blood lead levels of at least 10 μg/dL at dust lead levels considerably lower than current standards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1416-1421
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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