Use of geographic information system technology to aid Health Department decision making about childhood lead poisoning prevention activities

Environ Health Perspect. 2001 Jan;109(1):89-94. doi: 10.1289/ehp.0110989.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that local public health agencies use local data to identify children at risk for lead exposure to ensure that they receive preventive services. The objective of this study was to demonstrate the usefulness of a geographic information system (GIS) in identifying children at risk for lead exposure. We conducted a descriptive study, using GIS technology, of the blood lead (BPb) levels and residential location of at-risk children screened for lead exposure. "At-risk children" were defined as those children living in housing built before 1950 or in an area with a high proportion of older housing. The study was conducted in Jefferson County, Kentucky, USA. Participants were the cohort of children born in 1995 and screened from 1996 through 1997, and children younger than age 7 years who were screened from 1994 through 1998. Outcome measures were the BPb level and residential location (address or target zone) of at-risk children screened from 1996 through 1997, and the number and location of homes where more than one child had been poisoned by lead from 1994 through 1998. The proportion of children screened who live within zones targeted for universal screening varied from 48% to 53%, while only 50% of the at-risk children in the entire county were screened. Between 1994 and 1998, 79 homes housed 35% of the 524 children with lead poisoning. These housing units were prioritized for lead-hazard remediation. Significant numbers of at-risk children throughout the county were not being tested for lead exposure, even in prioritized areas. GIS can be very useful to health departments in planning lead exposure screening strategies and measuring program performance.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Decision Making
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Geography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Policy
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Information Systems*
  • Lead / blood*
  • Lead Poisoning / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Poverty
  • Public Health*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Lead