US: The rate at which lead poisoning has struck young Rhode Island children depends heavily on where they live, according to a Brown University-led geographic analysis of comprehensive health department data from across Rhode Island between 1993 and 2005. By mapping cases of lead poisoning, researchers have been able to help target cleanup resources to do the most good.
Patrick Vivier, associate professor of community health and pediatrics and lead author of the study, said that although he has been familiar with the state’s fight against lead poisoning for years, he was still struck by the geographic and demographic disparities uncovered in the analysis published online by Maternal and Child Health Journal.
According to the study of state health department mandated test results, the risk of a child being poisoned by lead was four times higher than average for children living in the state’s poorest neighbourhoods, and just under three times higher for children living in a neighbourhood with a preponderance of pre-1950 housing. Sometimes those areas overlapped, but even accounting for that overlap, each factor independently and significantly heightened the risk kids faced.
Viewed on maps, the data make a clear case that lead poisoning is a much greater problem in some specific areas of the state than in others, Vivier said. This insight has allowed a commission formed by Attorney General Patrick Lynch to recommend the best places to spend millions of dollars of cleanup money provided by DuPont after years of protracted litigation by the attorney general against several chemical companies and paint manufacturers.
The commission used the data to map the neighbourhoods that had the highest poverty, the highest stock of pre-1950 housing and the highest frequency of lead poisoning, and focused the efforts there.
The study was funded by Brown University, including money received from Du Pont as part of an agreement between the company and state Attorney General Patrick Lynch.
Source: Brown University