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Original Research

Association of blood lead levels in children 0–72 months with living in Mid-Appalachia: a semi-ecologic study

Submitted: 6 May 2015
Revised: 18 November 2015
Accepted: 22 February 2016
Published: 12 April 2016

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Author(s) : Wiener R, Jurevic RJ.

Citation: Wiener R, Jurevic RJ.  Association of blood lead levels in children 0–72 months with living in Mid-Appalachia: a semi-ecologic study. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2016; 16: 3597. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=3597 (Accessed 17 October 2017)

ABSTRACT

Introduction:  Lead exposure in children remains a significant public health issue, although many advances have been made. The Mid-Appalachia area (Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia) is 89–91% rural with a population density of 16–21 people/km2 (41–54 people/mi2). Mid-Appalachia has significant health disparities including concerns for the consequences of greater lead exposure to children due to mining and industrial footprints, and existing older housing. The purpose of this study is to compare the reported blood lead levels of screened children, aged 0–72 months in Mid-Appalachia, to the children in the USA in general.
Methods:  Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the US Census Bureau were analyzed in a semi-ecological study. The blood lead level of 5 μg/dL was compared between children in Mid-Appalachia and the US housing units built before 1950; US housing units built before 1940 were also compared.
Results:  The number of children with blood lead levels of 5 μg/dL was significantly greater in Mid-Appalachia than nationally (7.75% vs 5.79%, respectively; p<0.0001). The number of homes built before 1950 (p<0.0001) and built before 1940 (p<0.0001) was significantly greater in Mid-Appalachia than nationally.
Conclusions:  Blood lead levels in children are higher in Mid-Appalachia than nationally and there is an ecological relationship with the number of homes built before 1950 and before 1940.

Key words: disparity, heavy metal, lead exposure, Mid-Appalachia, USA.

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