August 1995

Elevated Environmental Lead Levels in a Day Care Setting

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics (Drs Weismann, Dusdieker, and Dungy) and University Hygienic Laboratory (Drs Cherryholmes and Hausler), The University of Iowa, Iowa City. Dr Cherryholmes is now with Cherryholmes Environmental Group, White Bear Lake, Minn.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(8):878-881. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170210052009

Objective:  To determine the risk of lead poisoning among children enrolled in day care centers with elevated environmental lead burdens.

Design:  Survey.

Setting:  Six day care centers on properties owned by a major state-supported university.

Patients and Other Participants:  One hundred fifty-five of 234 eligible children (mean age, 4.8 years) enrolled in these centers were screened by questionnaire for risk factors of lead exposures. Blood samples for lead levels were also obtained. Observations of day care activities relative to lead exposure risks were recorded. Analyses of lead levels in paint, dust, and/or soil samples at the six centers were obtained.

Main Outcome Measures:  Prevalence of elevated blood lead levels and associated behavioral risk factors for lead exposure in children attending day care centers.

Results:  Elevated levels of lead in paint (2.4% to 40% lead) were present in all day care facilities. Three day care centers had elevated lead levels in windowsill dust (62 000 to 180 000 g of lead per square meter) or soil (530 to 1100 mg of lead per kilogram). Questionnaires documented low risk for lead exposure to children in the home environments. Direct observations in the day care setting revealed optimal supervision and hygiene of the children. Blood lead levels were less than 0.5 μmol/L (10 μg/dL) in all but one of the 155 children screened.

Conclusions:  Children attending day care centers with high environmental lead burdens need further documentation of blood lead levels, at-risk behaviors, and lead exposure risks in the home environments as an adjunct to the instigation of lead abatement procedures at the day care centers.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:878-881)