Childhood lead poisoning: conservative estimates of the social and economic benefits of lead hazard control

Environ Health Perspect. 2009 Jul;117(7):1162-7. doi: 10.1289/ehp.0800408. Epub 2009 Mar 31.


Background: This study is a cost-benefit analysis that quantifies the social and economic benefits to household lead paint hazard control compared with the investments needed to minimize exposure to these hazards.

Objectives: This research updates estimates of elevated blood lead levels among a cohort of children < or = 6 years of age and compiles recent research to determine a range of the costs of lead paint hazard control ($1-$11 billion) and the benefits of reduction attributed to each cohort for health care ($11-$53 billion), lifetime earnings ($165-$233 billion), tax revenue ($25-$35 billion), special education ($30-$146 million), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder ($267 million), and the direct costs of crime ($1.7 billion).

Results: Each dollar invested in lead paint hazard control results in a return of $17-$221 or a net savings of $181-269 billion.

Conclusions: There are substantial returns to investing in lead hazard control, particularly targeted at early intervention in communities most likely at risk. Given the high societal costs of inaction, lead hazard control appears to be well worth the price.

Keywords: cost-benefit; economics; housing; lead poisoning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Lead / blood
  • Lead Poisoning / economics*
  • Male
  • Paint / toxicity


  • Lead