Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Epidemiology & Community Health

First Advisor

Robert Leonard Vance

Second Advisor

Roy Sabo


Purpose: The substantial impact of indoor air quality and environmental hazards in the home on one’s health has long been recognized in the field of public health. This cross-sectional study investigates the risk between home based hazards, specifically lead, and respiratory health in children. The objective of this study is to examine the extent to which children testing positive for blood lead exposure are at an increased risk for having poor respiratory health. Methods: A nationally representative sample of 977 children ages 1- 6 years was obtained from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Information from the demographic, blood lead level, and respiratory health questionnaire databases were combined to assess the impact of lead exposure on respiratory health. Blood lead exposure (BLL) was assessed at the following cut-off values: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10ug/dL. Respiratory health status was dichotomized as good and poor respiratory health based on the study participant’s answers to the questionnaire. Logistic regression was used to determine the relationship between blood lead levels and respiratory health status while controlling for the following potential confounders: race, age, sex, and annual family income. Results: This study was unable to establish a relationship between lead exposure and poor respiratory health in children ages 1-6 years, and the lack of relationship held for increasing levels of lead exposure. However, this study did reveal the significant impact of low level lead exposure in children with approximately 77% exposed at BLL ≥ 1ug/dL and 39% at BLL ≥ 2ug/dL. It is important to note that this is only a snapshot of the amount of lead exposure within this population; it is very likely that the levels fluctuate. Conclusion: While the percentage of study population decreases as the lead exposure increases, it is still alarming at the number of children exposed to low levels of lead. A large and growing body of literature documents the adverse health effects associated with low levels of lead exposure in children. This finding further supports the need for continuing research in examining the true impact of low level lead exposure and in determining a threshold dose level. In addition, a stronger study with a larger sample size and a more clearly defined respiratory health variable would allow for the relationship to be more closely examined before a definitive “no association” result can be made.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2009

Included in

Epidemiology Commons