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The Social Costs of Childhood Lead Exposure in the Post–Lead Regulation Era

Muennig, Peter A.

Objective: To estimate the benefits that might be realized if all children in the United States had a blood lead level of less than 1 μg/dL.

Design: Data were obtained from published and electronic sources. A Markov model was used to project lifetime earnings, reduced crime costs, improvements in health, and reduced welfare costs using 2 scenarios: (1) maintaining the status quo and (2) reducing the blood lead level of all children to less than 1 μg/dL.

Participants: The cohort of US children between birth and age 6 years in 2008, with economic and health outcomes projected for 65 years.

Interventions: Increased primary prevention efforts aimed at reducing lead exposure among children and pregnant women.

Main Outcome Measures: Societal costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) gained.

Results: Reducing blood lead levels to less than 1 μg/dL among all US children between birth and age 6 years would reduce crime and increase on-time high school graduation rates later in life. The net societal benefits arising from these improvements in high school graduation rates and reductions in crime would amount to $50 000 (SD, $14 000) per child annually at a discount rate of 3%. This would result in overall savings of approximately $1.2 trillion (SD, $341 billion) and produce an additional 4.8 million QALYs (SD, 2 million QALYs) for US society as a whole.

Conclusion: More aggressive programs aimed at reducing childhood lead exposure may produce large social benefits.

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Title
Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1001/archpediatrics.2009.128

More About This Work

Academic Units
Health Policy and Management
Published Here
November 11, 2016