Improving Childhood Blood Lead Level Screening, Reporting, and Surveillance in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

by Donna J. Keyser, Ray Firth, Amy Richardson, Maria Zeglen Townsend


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Despite the general perception that it is no longer an important public health problem, lead poisoning remains a serious, preventable environmental health threat to young children that affects neurodevelopmental, intellectual, and cognitive outcomes. One of the key goals of current U.S. public health policy is the elimination of childhood lead poisoning, which will require improvements in lead poisoning prevention; screening, reporting, and surveillance of childhood blood lead levels; and treatment of childhood lead poisoning. The focus of this report is on screening, reporting, and surveillance, which are critical for eliminating lead poisoning, as well as for its prevention and treatment. In pursuit of this goal at the community level, Healthy Home Resources commissioned the RAND Corporation and the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development to examine the current status of childhood blood lead level screening, reporting, and surveillance in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and to offer recommendations for improving these processes. The findings and recommendations presented in this report are the result of a background study of the relevant literature, a review of existing blood lead level reporting and surveillance databases for Pennsylvania and Allegheny County, and interviews and focus groups.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Existing Data on Childhood Blood Lead Screening, Reporting, and Surveillance in Allegheny County

  • Chapter Three

    Screening for Childhood Lead Poisoning in Allegheny County

  • Chapter Four

    Reporting and Surveillance of Childhood Lead Poisoning in Allegheny County

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Population of Children and Median Housing Age in Allegheny County

  • Appendix B

    Advisory Group Members

  • Appendix C

    A Comparison of Risk Factors for Lead Poisoning

The research described in the report was conducted in RAND Health, a division of the RAND Corporation, for Healthy Home Resources.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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