Ethnic and socioeconomic risk factors for lead toxicity

Laurence J. Fuortes, Clayton T. Cowl, Stephen J. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background. Lead poisoning is recognized as a major public health concern. Several studies have described lower socioeconomic status, African- American and Latino ethnicity and/or poor housing conditions. As risk factors for lead toxicity this study was performed to examine risk factors for lead toxicity and to identify target groups for screening efforts. Methods. A chart review of twenty-five years of inpatient and outpatient visits for lead poisoning, (identified by ICD-9 codes) was performed for a Midwestern university hospital. Comparisons were made between ethnic groups and by insurance type. Institution specific and statewide census data were used as denominators to calculate rates and odds ratios. Results. Seventy-two percent of the cases were children, less than 18 years of age. Among the children's cases, 85% resulted from pica. African-Americans were approximately ten-fold more likely and Latin-Americans seven-fold more likely than other ethnic groups to be seen for lead toxicity. Lack of private insurance and ethnicity were independent risk factors for lead toxicity. Conclusions. The association of African-American and Latin-American status, and of lower socioeconomic status with lead toxicity may be used as support for targeting screening and interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-343
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clean Technology, Environmental Toxicology and Occupational Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1997


  • Epidemiology
  • Ethnicity
  • Lead
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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