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Colorado Lead Studies

From June through September 1995, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment conducted a survey of blood lead levels among children living in north central Denver. The area was selected based on 1994 surveillance data; data on age of housing units, household income, and race/ethnicity; and information provided by a concerned community group. A census of a randomly selected sample of households living in the survey area was conducted from April through June 1995 to identify children from 12-35 months of age.


Of the children identified in the census who could be located a few weeks later for blood specimen collection, 60.4% or 173 participated. A pediatric phlebotomist collected a blood specimen by appointment in each child's home. The proportion with blood lead levels > 10 µg/dL was 16.2%. Five children had levels > 20 µg/dL.


While this neighborhood was clearly at high-risk for childhood lead poisoning, no individual risk factors for having an elevated lead level were found using a questionnaire administered at the time the blood specimen was collected. The proportion with elevated levels was higher than expected and over five times greater than the overall rate (3.2%) for Denver County calculated from 1994 surveillance reports. The findings are consistent with the idea that there exist "pockets" of childhood lead poisoning within the city. The results of the survey highlight the problem of lead poisoning in the city and the need to provide resources for environmental investigation and intervention.