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Primary prevention of lead poisoning in children: a cross-sectional study to evaluate state specific lead-based paint risk reduction laws in preventing lead poisoning in children
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    Background

    Children younger than 72 months are most at risk of environmental exposure to lead from ingestion through normal mouthing behavior. Young children are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults because lead is absorbed more readily in a child’s gastrointestinal tract. Our focus in this study was to determine the extent to which state mandated lead laws have helped decrease the number of new cases of elevated blood-lead levels (EBLL) in homes where an index case had been identified.

    Methods

    A cross-sectional study was conducted to compare 682 residential addresses, identified between 2000 and 2009, in two states with and one state without laws to prevent childhood lead poisoning among children younger than 72 months, to determine whether the laws were effective in preventing subsequent cases of lead poisoning detected in residential addresses after the identification of an index case. In this study, childhood lead poisoning was defined as the blood lead level (BLL) that would have triggered an environmental investigation in the residence. The two states with lead laws, Massachusetts (MA) and Ohio (OH), had trigger levels of ≥25 μg/dL and ≥15 μg/dL respectively. In Mississippi (MS), the state without legislation, the trigger level was ≥15 μg/dL.

    Results

    The two states with lead laws, MA and OH, were 79% less likely than the one without legislation, MS, to have residential addresses with subsequent lead poisoning cases among children younger than 72 months, adjusted OR = 0.21, 95% CI (0.08-0.54).

    Conclusions

    For the three states studied, the evidence suggests that lead laws such as those studied herein effectively reduced primary exposure to lead among young children living in residential addresses that may have had lead contaminants.