A retrospective examination of in-home educational visits to reduce childhood lead levels.Environ Res. 1999 May; 80(4):364-8.ER
A number of human health effects from lead are well known. However, the means for reducing lead exposure in children has been a subject of uncertainty. This paper presents results of a retrospective study of educational lead reduction interventions in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for children who had elevated blood lead levels between 20 and 24 microg/dl. The study examined Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) records of baseline and follow-up blood lead measurements. A study group of children received an in-home educational visit by an MHD paraprofessional. The educational visits last about an hour and the importance of reducing lead exposure, nutritional suggestions, and dust clean-up practices and behavioral changes that can reduce lead exposure are discussed. After the intervention, the average observed blood lead level (n=187) declined by 4.2 microg/dl or by about 21%. A decline of 1.2 microg/dl (6%) was also observed in a reference group of 226 children who did not receive an MHD in-home visit. The decline in the reference group may be partially due to education at the clinics taking the blood samples. The study group had a decline in blood lead levels 3.1 microg/dl (15%) greater than the reference group, with the difference between groups being statistically significant with a P value of less than 0.001. Although significant exposures remained in most of the children studied, important lead reductions were observed with this relatively inexpensive and simple intervention. Education in the homes of families at risk for lead poisoning may be an effective component of programs to reduce blood lead levels.