Housing Assistance and Blood Lead Levels: Children in the United States, 2005–2012

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American Journal of Public Health


Objectives. To compare blood lead levels (BLLs) among US children aged 1 to 5 years according to receipt of federal housing assistance. Methods. In our analyses, we used 2005 to 2012 data for National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) respondents that were linked to 1999 to 2014 administrative records from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After we restricted the analysis to children with family income-to-poverty ratios below 200%, we compared geometric mean BLLs and the prevalence of BLLs of 3 micrograms per deciliter or higher among children who were living in assisted housing at the time of their NHANES blood draw (n = 151) with data for children who did not receive housing assistance (n = 1099). Results. After adjustment, children living in assisted housing had a significantly lower geometric mean BLL (1.44 µg/dL; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.31, 1.57) than comparable children who did not receive housing assistance (1.79 µg/dL; 95% CI = 1.59, 2.01; P < .01). The prevalence ratio for BLLs of 3 micrograms per deciliter or higher was 0.51 (95% CI = 0.33, 0.81; P < .01). Conclusions. Children aged 1 to 5 years during 2005 to 2012 who were living in HUD-assisted housing had lower BLLs than expected given their demographic, socioeconomic, and family characteristics.


© American Public Health Association 2016