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Oregon EPHT Lead Indicator: Blood lead testing; housing age and poverty

Lead Indicator:   Childhood blood lead testing

Measure : Childhood blood lead testing, housing age & childhood poverty

 

In the US, the main source of childhood lead poisoning is lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in older homes and buildings.

Children are at a higher risk for exposure to lead than adults due to t heir normal behavior - crawling, exploring, teething, putting objects in their mouth - which puts them into contact with any lead that is present in their environment through eating lead-based paint chips, chewing on objects painted with lead-based paint, or swallowing house dust or soil that contains lead. 

 

A blood test is available to measure the amount of lead in your blood and to estimate the amount of your recent exposure to lead. This measure consists of the percentage and number  of children who were tested for elevated blood lead levels before the age of 3, by state, county and ZIP code. Since we cannot determine exactly how many children in Oregon have elevated blood lead levels at any one time through routine tracking, the percent of children tested for elevated blood lead before the age of 3 is used instead as an estimate.

 

Blood lead level data are collected by state and local childhood lead poisoning prevention programs. The number children tested with blood lead levels above 10 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) cannot be interpreted as prevalence or incidence for the population because Oregon only requires at-risk children to be tested. 

 

Children from all social and economic levels can be affected by lead, but research has shown that lead poisoning and elevated blood lead levels are more frequent in children who grow up in poverty or live in houses build before 1950. For this reason, childhood poverty and living in pre-1950s housing are used nationally to estimate of the risk of child lead poisoning.  

 

In Oregon’s rural areas, there is a link between living in pre-1950 housing and poverty, but it is not strong. In Oregon's more populated areas, housing age is not related to poverty. So, while poverty and pre-1950 housing may make good estimates of the risk of being exposed to lead nationally, these are not the best tools available to estimate the risk in Oregon.

 

The table, graph and map below show combined information for three measures: 1) The percentage  of children tested for lead poisoning prior to age 3; 2) The percentage of pre-1950 housing; and 3) The percentage of children under age 5 living in poverty. 

 

 

Table:       Percentages of children tested before age 3, children under the age of 5 living in poverty, and housing units built before 1950, by state and county

 

Graph:       Percentages of children tested before age 3, children under the age of 5 living in poverty, and housing units built before 1950, by county

   

Map:  Percentages of children tested before age 3, children under age 5 living in poverty, and housing units built before 1950, by county 

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Table:        Percentages of children tested before age 3, children under the age of 5 living in poverty, and housing units built before 1950, by state and county

 

% Children tested % Children living in poverty % Pre-1950 housing

Oregon

17.0

10.0

20.6

 

 

 

 

Baker

1.1

14.4

37.6

Benton

1.7

7.5

15.7

Clackamas

8.6

5.2

13.7

Clatsop

3.9

15.8

37.9

Columbia

9.0

9.3

24.7

Coos

2.3

16.2

22.9

Crook

2.8

10.8

13.4

Curry

2.1

7.8

7.8

Deschutes

0.9

6.3

7.5

Douglas

3.5

13.5

18.0

Gilliam

1.2

3.4

47.7

Grant

0.7

11.8

29.2

Harney

4.2

7.4

26.8

Hood River

9.8

12.8

27.8

Jackson

4.6

12.3

14.9

Jefferson

4.5

13.7

6.2

Josephine

5.0

15.9

13.5

Klamath

5.4

16.3

26.5

Lake

2.0

16.2

27.6

Lane

7.3

11.4

16.3

Lincoln

1.3

14.9

16.6

Linn

1.0

9.9

20.4

Malheur

14.8

14.5

24.5

Marion

10.5

13.4

15.7

Morrow

9.9

11.8

18.8

Multnomah

26.8

10.0

39.0

Polk

8.9

10.6

18.3

Sherman

15.1

10.2

40.3

Tillamook

12.2

15.3

23.9

Umatilla

13.6

10.9

25.2

Union

0.8

10.7

36.4

Wallowa

0.5

18.4

36.2

Wasco

20.5

13.2

28.1

Washington

5.2

6.0

6.3

Wheeler

3.1

13.7

40.1

Yamhill

6.2

7.6

19.6

 
 

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Graph:         Percentages of children tested before age 3, children under the age of 5 living in poverty, and housing units built before 1950, by state and county

 
 
 
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Map:       Percentages of children tested before age 3, children under the age of 5 living in poverty, and housing units built before 1950
 

Each of the three shades on the map represent one third of all counties, with darker shades indicating higher percentages of children under the age of 3 that were tested. The red bars represent the percent of pre-1950 housing, and the grey bars represent the percent of children under age 5 living in poverty for each county.     

 

 

 

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