Blood Lead Levels in Children

Blood lead level is a measure of the amount of lead found in blood. It is measured in micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dL). The HCI Blood Lead Levels in Children indicator measures the percent of neighborhood children that have been tested and found to have lead levels over 5 µg/dL, and the data posted here represents RI Department of Health results for 2013 and 2014. Childhood lead exposure is a critical public health issue. High blood lead levels can cause reduced cognitive potential; children whose health or cognition has been harmed by lead suffer permanent effects that continue into adulthood. This is an “inverse” measure: a high proportion of neighborhood children with high blood levels equates to low community health. Although identified in the Housing domain, blood lead levels in children also impacts health systems and public safety, employment, economic health, and education. Blood lead data are collected by state and local health departments.

Neighborhoodsort descending Indicator Value Rank
Blackstone 6.8% 4
Charles 6.6% 3
College Hill 14.5% 19
Downtown 10.3% 14
Elmhurst 5.0% 1
Elmwood 13.6% 17
Federal Hill 18.7% 25
Fox Point 6.5% 2
Hartford 8.8% 10
Hope 8.4% 8
Lower South Providence 9.8% 13
Manton 7.5% 6
Mount Hope 8.9% 11
Mount Pleasant 9.3% 12
Olneyville 14.8% 21
Reservoir 7.1% 5
Silver Lake 11.9% 15
Smith Hill 14.8% 21
South Elmwood 15.5% 23
Upper South Providence 15.8% 24
Valley 14.0% 18
Wanskuck 8.4% 8
Washington Park 12.2% 16
Wayland 8.3% 7
West End 14.7% 20

Key Citations:
1. Asthma Community Network, Program at a Glance: New York State Department of Health, Center for Environmental Health, Healthy Neighborhoods Program. Accessed August 30, 2013. Available at:
2. Gould E. Childhood lead poisoning: conservative estimates of the social and economic benefits of lead hazard control. Environmental Health Perspective. 2009;117(7):1162–1167.
3. Trasande L and Liu Y. Reducing the staggering costs of environmental disease in children, estimated at $76.6 billion in 2008. Health Affairs. 2011; 30 (5): 863–869.
4. Jusko TA, Henderson CR, Lanphear BP, Cory-Slechta DA, Parsons PJ, Canfield RL. Blood lead Concentrations. Environ. Health Perspect. 2008;116(2):243–248.
5. Mazumdar M, Bellinger DC, Gregas M, Abanilla K, Bacic J, Needleman HL. Low-level environmental lead exposure in childhood and adult intellectual function: a follow-up study. Environ Health. 2011;10:24.
6. Bellinger DC, Stiles KM, Needleman HL. Low-level lead exposure, intelligence and academic achievement: a long term follow-up study. Pediatrics. 1992;90(6):855–861.