Spatial relationships between lead sources and children's blood lead levels in the urban center of Indianapolis (USA)

Deborah Morrison, Qing Lin, Sarah Wiehe, Gilbert Liu, Marc Rosenman, Trevor Fuller, Jane Wang, Gabriel Filippelli*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Urban children remain disproportionately at risk of having higher blood lead levels than their suburban counterparts. The Westside Cooperative Organization (WESCO), located in Marion County, Indianapolis, Indiana, has a history of children with high blood lead levels as well as high soil lead (Pb) values. This study aims at determining the spatial relationship between soil Pb sources and children's blood lead levels. Soils have been identified as a source of chronic Pb exposure to children, but the spatial scale of the source-recipient relationship is not well characterized. Neighborhood-wide analysis of soil Pb distribution along with a furnace filter technique for sampling interior Pb accumulation for selected homes (n = 7) in the WESCO community was performed. Blood lead levels for children aged 0-5 years during the period 1999-2008 were collected. The study population's mean blood lead levels were higher than national averages across all ages, race, and gender. Non-Hispanic blacks and those individuals in the Wishard advantage program had the highest proportion of elevated blood lead levels. The results show that while there is not a direct relationship between soil Pb and children's blood lead levels at a spatial scale of ~100 m, resuspension of locally sourced soil is occurring based on the interior Pb accumulation. County-wide, the largest predictor of elevated blood lead levels is the location within the urban core. Variation in soil Pb and blood lead levels on the community level is high and not predicted by housing stock age or income. Race is a strong predictor for blood lead levels in the WESCO community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-183
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Children
  • Environmental health
  • Health
  • Lead
  • Soil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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