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Lead Poisoning Research at Wayne State University's Center for Urban Studies

Lead poisoning can result in learning and behavioral disabilities with few physical symptoms. It is associated with poor school performance, lowered employability and delinquent behavior. The Centers for Disease Control has established 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (10 µg/dl) as a level of concern but there is strong evidence of significant damage to intellectual functioning at even lower blood-lead levels. Children between the ages of six months and three years are at the greatest risk because they have a high degree of exposure to lead in household dust due to normal hand-to-mouth activity. Their developing nervous system is at heightened vulnerability to lead toxicity.

Research at the Center for Urban Studies in the area of lead poisoning focuses on evaluating prevention effectiveness, targeting prevention activities, evaluating programs and policies, and determining the extent of childhood lead poisoning.

Initially, Wayne State University's Community Development Block Grant project was asked by the Detroit City Council to investigate lead poisoning among Detroit's children. In response:

  • We mapped data on the level of lead in the blood for children in Detroit;
  • We conducted literature reviews; and
  • We called local, state, and national lead experts.

Currently we have projects exploring:

  • Best practices in lead poisoning across the 50 largest cities in the United States;
  • The implications for the local special education system resulting from lead poisoning; and
  • New techniques for effective targeting of high risk neighborhoods.
This website presents selected findings of our continuing research efforts in the subject area.

Lead Poisoning in the Media :

Intellectual Impairment in Children with Blood Lead Concentrations below 10 µg per Deciliter
Data presented in an article recently published by the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that even a blood lead concentration below 10 µg per deciliter may adversely affect cognitive development,and they provide further support for the goal of primary prevention of lead exposure.

Detroit Must Get The Lead Out
Addressing the health concerns: as many as 18,000 children who have some level of lead poisoning in their systems.

A Strange Ignorance: The Role of Lead Poisoning In "Failing Schools"
"Failing Schools" as a symptom of the damage caused by lead poisoning.



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