A risk model is a statistical procedure for assigning to an individual a probability of developing a future adverse outcome in a given time period. Areas of high and low risk of childhood lead exposure in Iowa can be identified based on the presence of particular risk factors. 

The Lead Exposure Risk Model is a neighborhood-level (census tract) estimate of risk of childhood lead exposure based on the age of housing, poverty, and language spoken in the home.

The following targeted risks were selected for the Lead Exposure Risk Model by the Tracking program: 

  • Lead risk from housing built prior to 1950:  Homes built before 1978 are more likely to contain lead-based paint. In 1978, the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-containing paint. Lead from paint, including lead-contaminated dust, is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning. This model uses the higher risk of housing built prior to 1950.
  • Poverty of children under 6: Children from all social and economic strata can be affected, although the children at greatest risk of lead exposure are those who live in older housing and are living in poverty. Children in low-income families have been found to show lags in cognitive and behavioral development compared to their peers in higher-income families.
  • Language other than English spoken in the home: Language is a critical component of risk communication for developing effective public health interventions. Those who do not speak English might be unaware of the dangers of lead.  This model can help guide risk assessment and the development of lead poisoning prevention strategies for at-risk populations.

Although there are other risk factors for lead exposure such as having a sibling or playmate with an elevated blood lead level who play in common or parents who work in an industry where lead is used, Iowa does not have sufficiently high-quality data to account for these variables at the census tract geography.

Lead Exposure Risk Model Description

  • The risk model is a neighborhood-level (census tract) estimate of risk of childhood lead exposure based on three factors: housing age, poverty level, and language spoken in the home. 
  • The risk model allows individuals to view a map of multiple indicators, with low, moderate, and high rankings, displayed at the community level.

Lead Risk Model