Residential dust lead levels and the risk of childhood lead poisoning in United States children

Joseph M. Braun*, Kimberly Yolton, Nicholas Newman, David E. Jacobs, Mark Taylor, Bruce P. Lanphear

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently lowered residential floor and windowsill dust lead hazard standards, but maintained previous post-abatement clearance standards. We examined whether the discrepancy in these regulations places children at higher risk of lead poisoning. Methods: In 250 children from Cincinnati, Ohio (2004–2008) living in homes built before 1978, we measured residential floor and windowsill dust lead loadings and blood lead concentrations at ages 1 and 2 years. Using linear regression with generalized estimating equations, we estimated covariate-adjusted associations of dust lead levels with blood lead concentrations and risk of lead poisoning. Results: An increase in floor dust lead from 10 (revised dust lead hazard standard) to 40 μg/ft2 (post-abatement clearance standard) was associated with 26% higher (95% confidence interval (CI):15, 38) blood lead concentrations and 2.1 times the risk of blood lead concentrations ≥5 μg/dL (95% CI: 1.44, 3.06). Extrapolating our findings to US children age 1–5 years, we estimated that 6.9% (95% CI: 1.5, 17.2) of cases of blood lead concentrations ≥5 μg/dL are attributable to floor dust lead loadings between 10 and ≤40 μg/ft2. Conclusions: The EPA’s residential dust lead regulations place children at increased risk of lead poisoning. We recommend adopting more protective dust lead standards. Impact: We determined whether children are at increased risk of lead poisoning with the 2019 EPA residential post-abatement lead clearance standards being higher than dust lead hazard standards.In this observational study, 2019 EPA dust lead clearance standards were associated with increased risk of lead poisoning compared to the revised dust lead hazard standard. Both EPA standards were associated with increased risk of lead poisoning compared to more stringent standards employed in our study.Extrapolating our findings to US children, the 2019 EPA dust lead clearance standards could place up to 36,700 children at risk of lead poisoning.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPediatric Research
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

A corrigendum exists for this article and can be found in Pediatric Research, doi: 10.1038/s41390-020-01229-0

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