In-house Quality and Safety

Prevalence of children with blood lead levels (>5 µg/dL)

The map shows average annual prevalence of 9-48 month old children with blood lead levels (>5 micrograms per deciliter) in the City of Boston from 2013 to 2017.

How are lead poisoning and housing related?

In Massachusetts, lead paint on the inside and outside of the houses built before 1978 is known to be a source of lead poisoning.1 Dust from peeled and cracked old lead paint causes lead poisoning when swallowed or breathed by residents. Children between the ages of 9 months and 6 years are most at risk. Studies indicate that children’s intellectual functioning is impaired by blood lead concentrations.2  While no safe blood lead level in children has been identified, the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated is blood lead levels above 5 µg/dL for children between the ages of 1 and 5 years.3 The map illustrates census tracts showing average prevalence of children with blood lead levels higher than the reference level by CDC from 2013 to 2017. Many lead poisoning hot spots often appear in areas with more low-income and minority residents since they are more likely to live in older homes where lead paint has not been removed.

Read more about the lead poisoning disparity here.

 

Resources to prevent lead poisoning  

Lead Safe Home Search allows you to look up the inspection history of a property in the Boston metro area.

Homeworks is a program from the city of Boston that provides interest free loans for home repairs to eligible residents.

Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is a statewide program which offers finding licensed lead inspectors, financial assistance for deleading, and training for deleading homes.  

Data source:

Massachusetts Department of Public Health/Bureau of Environmental Health (MDPH/BEH) (2018). Massachusetts Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT). Retrieved from here

References:

1. Commonwealth of Massachusetts (2019). Learn about childhood lead poisoning​. Retrieved from here.

2. Jusko, T. A., Henderson Jr, C. R., Lanphear, B. P., Cory-Slechta, D. A., Parsons, P. J., & Canfield, R. L. (2007). Blood lead concentrations< 10 μg/dL and child intelligence at 6 years of age. Environmental health perspectives, 116(2), 243-248.

3. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (2019). Lead. Retrieved from here.

4. Rocheleau, M. (2016). Low-income, minority areas seen as lead poisoning hot spots. Boston Globe. Retrieved from here.