Use of Geographical Information Systems for Risk Identification – Identifying Counties in Georgia With High Risk for Childhood Lead Poisoning

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For children in Georgia, lead poisoning is a substantial public health problem. Primary risk factors include low socioeconomic status and poor-quality housing built prior to 1978. Spatial technology allows analysis and identification of health trends, mapping of environmental health issues, and ultimately development of public health interventions. The purpose of this work was to develop a series of risk maps at different geographic scales to guide targeted public health interventions to identify counties in which children have high risk for lead poisoning. Data related to stratified and median housing age data were derived from the 2013 5-year American Community Survey (ACS) to the level of the county and census block groups for median and stratified housing age. In addition, the ACS contained the number of Georgia housing units stratified by age group in 10-year blocks beginning in 1939 or earlier and including the overall percentage of each age group with a standard margin of error for each county. Blood lead surveillance data were also analyzed for years 1998-2013 with a focus on the prevalence of elevated blood levels (≥5µg/dL). With ESRI ArcMap 10.2, the data were geospatially linked to the state's county shapefile for development of spatial maps to ultimately determine the counties in which children were at highest risk for lead poisoning. This work facilitates prioritizing public health interventions in the counties in which children are at high risk by linking blood lead exposures with the risk level of each county with long-term cost savings and improved health outcomes. Additional map layers can be created to show the relationships and locations between pediatrician offices and high-risk neighborhoods so that targeted outreach and education to the medical community can be provided, which can make physicians more aware of the problem of lead poisoning.


American Public Health Association Annual Conference (APHA)


Denver, CO