POLLUTION LOCATOR|Lead Hazards|Report Descriptions

Lead Hazard Report Descriptions

This report presents information about potential lead hazards in housing. Elevated exposure to lead can cause serious health effects, particularly by disrupting normal neurological development in young children. Lead exposure typically occurs in and around the house as a result of deteriorating lead-based paint, lead-contaminated dust, and lead-contaminated soil. Scorecard uses a variety of indicators to identify areas with housing at high risk of lead contamination. The report allows you to rank your community based on the extent of potential lead contamination problems, and provides you with opportunities to take action to clean up your home and community.

Data Sources: Scorecard uses housing and demographic measures from the 2000 Census as indicators of potential lead hazards. Other sources used to characterize lead hazards include the CDC report Surveillance for Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Children - US, 1997-2001 (Sept. 2003) and The Second National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.

NOTE: Potential hot spots of lead hazards in housing are identified based on hazard indicators, not lead monitoring data. Because local data on lead contamination are generally unavailable, Scorecard relies on housing and demographic indicators to identify areas with housing that has a high risk of lead hazards. Scientific studies have demonstrated that housing built prior to 1950 and households with income below the poverty threshold have an elevated risk of lead contamination. Scorecard uses data from the 2000 U.S. Census for both of these risk factors to estimate potential lead hazards in housing.

Map Locating Lead Hazards
Scorecard provides maps at the national, state, county, and census tract level that spotlight areas with housing that is at high risk of lead contamination. Scorecard's mapper indicates which areas have the highest number of housing units at high risk of lead hazards, and presents charts illustrating the percent of high risk housing unts and kids below poverty in an area.

Lead Hazard Indicators and Comparative Rankings
Scorecard provides information about a variety of
lead hazard indicators which are reliable indicators of potential lead contamination problems, and indicates how your community compares to others. Reports and rankings emphasize one measure in particular: Housing with High Risk of Lead Hazards, because it has the strongest association with the potential for childhood lead poisoning. This measure is the number of housing units that were built before 1950 and are occupied by families living below the poverty level.

Blood Lead Levels In Children
Blood lead levels are the best indicator of potential health risks: the amount of lead in a person' blood is the primary determinant of whether someone will experience
lead's adverse health effects. Blood lead levels (BLLs) as low as 10 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dL) are associated with harmful effects on children's learning and behavior. Very young children (ages 1 and 2 years) are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead. A blood lead level greater or equal to 10 ug/dL is considered to be an elevated blood lead level by the federal government. Scorecard's national report provides data from the CDC on the number of children under 6 by age group with blood lead levels >= 10 ug/dL, and state reports offer thermometers ranking states by the number of children with elevated BLLs. Note important data limitations.

Hot Spots of Lead Air Quality Hazards
While lead exposure (particularly among children) is primarily due to lead contamination in housing, some communities are hotspots of lead contamination due to industrial releases of lead. Scorecard identifies areas with high ambient air concentrations of lead (based on monitoring data reported under the
Clean Air Act) as well as areas with large industrial releases to air of lead or lead compounds (based on reports to EPA's Toxics Release Inventory).

Take Action
If you are concerned about lead hazards in your area, Environmental Defense and the Alliance for Healthy Homes encourage you to take action. Scorecard provides the opportunity to send an email message to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and decision-makers in your state in support of efforts to reduce lead poisoning in children. Scorecard also connects you with local advocates working to prevent lead poisoning and encourages you to financially support these organizations.

Scorecard provides links to other web resources that can help you learn how to prevent lead poisoning, remediate problems in your home, and find local certified lead contractors.