The rate at which lead poisoning has struck young Rhode Island children depends heavily on where they live, according to a Brown University-led geographic analysis of comprehensive health department data from across Rhode Island between 1993 and 2005. By mapping cases of lead poisoning, researchers have been able to help target cleanup resources to do the most good.
During that 12-year period, some census blocks in the state had no cases of poisoning in the study group of 204,746 children, but in the hardest hit census blocks of Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, Woonsocket, and Newport, lead poisoning afflicted as many as 48.6 percent of kids under 6.
Patrick Vivier, associate professor of community health and pediatrics and lead author of the study, said that although he has been familiar with the state’s fight against lead poisoning for years, he was still struck by the geographic and demographic disparities uncovered in the analysis published online Oct. 23 by Maternal and Child Health Journal.
“We know there are disparities, but to look at zero cases in some areas and almost 50 percent in some areas is still shocking,” said Vivier, who is also affiliated with Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital.
Although the trend over time has been that lead poisoning cases are declining, that does not mean the problem’s impact has dissipated. The damage lead can do to a child’s developing nervous system is irreversible. In hard-hit areas, a generation of children has been at high risk for suffering symptoms such as behavioral disorders and reduced attention span and IQ scores.
According to the study of state health department mandated test results, the risk of a child being poisoned by lead was four times higher than average for children living in the state’s poorest neighborhoods, and just under three times higher for children living in a neighborhood with a preponderance of pre-1950 housing. Sometimes those areas overlapped, but even accounting for that overlap, each factor independently and significantly heightened the risk kids faced.
Viewed on maps, the data make a clear case that lead poisoning is a much greater problem in some very specific areas of the state than in others, Vivier said. This insight has allowed a commission formed by Attorney General Patrick Lynch to recommend the best places to spend millions of dollars of cleanup money provided by DuPont after years of protracted litigation by the attorney general against several chemical companies and paint manufacturers.
The commission used the data to map the neighborhoods that had the highest poverty, the highest stock of pre-1950 housing and the highest frequency of lead poisoning, and focused the efforts there.
“We know where to go,” Vivier said. “These places are clustered in specific spots so it means we can go and do something about it in those places.”
Cleanup efforts around the state funded by the Du Pont money are still going on.
Rhode Island’s mandatory program of testing for lead poisoning and the Rhode Island Department of Health’s statewide lead database have provided an unusually rich record of data, Vivier said. But looking at the striking sociological disparities in the data, as well as its usefulness in mapping those disparities, Vivier said public health researchers should be eager to apply geographic analysis in other such studies.
“This paper demonstrates the huge health burden that where you live can have,” Vivier said.
In addition to Vivier, the study’s other authors were Sherry Weitzen, research assistant professor of community health; John Logan, professor of sociology; Marissa Hauptman of New York University Medical School; Scott Bell, associate professor of geography at the University of Saskatchewan; and Daniela Quilliam of the Rhode Island Department of Health.
The study was funded by Brown University, including money received from Du Pont as part of an agreement between the company and state Attorney General Patrick Lynch.
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine