Detroit’s 9.9% rate of EBLL was 5th highest among cities with 1,000 or more tests in 2007. Detroit accounts for the largest percentage of total children tested statewide with EBLLs. A deeper understanding of where these children with EBLLs live and characteristics of the community can help parents and caregivers advocate more strongly for policies and procedures in the city to mitigate exposure.
Looking at the percentage of children with EBLLs by census tract in Detroit, some patterns begin to emerge.
The wide variation in numbers of children tested in each census tract can partially be accounted for by the dispersion of children throughout the neighborhoods; however, it’s also apparent that EBLL testing can be expanded in specific communities, especially those that have relatively high EBLLs rates reported, but relatively lower counts of children tested. These include parts of Lower East Side (west of Gratiot), Islandview, West Village, and Indian Village. It’s important to increase EBLL testing rates up in communities with lower testing rates to better understanding the lead exposure rates across the city.
To examine the potential factors that could impact lead exposure among Detroit’s children, we mapped both schools with elevated lead levels in their water supply as reported by DPSCD as well as demolitions. Since administrative data for Hamtramck and Highland Park and their respective school systems aren’t readily available, their data was not included in this additional analysis.
This data tells multiple stories. First, some communities are at low-risk for EBLLs overall despite schools and demolitions being potential contaminates. Second, many communities are at higher risk for EBLLs, but low rates of testing preclude researchers from understanding the full story.