Demolition Activity and Elevated Blood Lead Levels among Children in Detroit, Michigan, 2014-2018

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Aug 19;17(17):6018. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17176018.


Older buildings in the United States often contain lead paint, and their demolition poses the risk of community lead exposure. We investigated associations between demolitions and elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs) among Detroit children aged <6 years, 2014-2018, and evaluated yearly variation given health and safety controls implemented during this time. Case-control analysis included incident EBLL cases (≥5 µg/dL) and non-EBLL controls from test results reported to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Exposure was defined as the number of demolitions (0, 1, 2+) within 400 feet of the child's residence 45 days before the blood test. We used logistic regression to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), and test effect modification by year. Associations between demolition and EBLL differed yearly (p = 0.07): 2+ demolitions were associated with increased odds of EBLLs in 2014 (OR: 1.75; 95% CI: (1.17, 2.55), 2016 (2.36; 1.53, 3.55) and 2017 (2.16; 1.24, 3.60), but not in 2018 (0.94; 0.41, 1.86). This pattern remained consistent in sensitivity analyses. The null association in 2018 may be related to increased health and safety controls. Maintenance of controls and monitoring are essential, along with other interventions to minimize lead exposure, especially for susceptible populations.

Keywords: children; demolitions; elevated blood lead level; lead; negative control.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Housing*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lead Poisoning*
  • Lead* / analysis
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Michigan
  • United States


  • Lead