Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of the Georgia Public Health Association




Background: Rural areas are often viewed as lower risk for lead poisoning and toxic exposures seriously impacting development of the brain and central nervous system; this report examines the prevalence of elevated blood lead levels for children <6 years of age in rural Ben Hill County, GA.

Methods: Lead surveillance data from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) were analyzed using SAS®v-9.3 to calculate the prevalence of elevated blood lead levels (≥5ug/dL) among those children in Ben Hill County who had been tested for lead; the results were compared to Georgia and national data.

Results: A preliminary analysis of 2010-2015 screening data for Ben Hill County indicates that 8.73% (95%- CI: 7.4%-10.1%) of children that were tested for lead exceeded the Centers for Disease Control reference level (≥5ug/dL) and is approximately 3.5 and 2.4 times higher, respectively, when compared to the National (2.5%) and State (3.64%) percentages of children exposed to lead at or above the reference level.

Conclusions: While these data are preliminary and more analysis is planned to ascertain the full breadth, source, and scope of the problem, it highlights lead poisoning risks rural communities face that are often overlooked in population-based risk analysis and research on lead exposure in children.


Copyright Statement: Copyright © R. Christopher Rustin, Yu Sun, MD, Chris Calhoun, and Christy Kuriatnyk. Originally published in jGPHA ( December 15, 2016.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work ("first published in the Journal of the Georgia Public Health Association…") is properly cited with original URL and bibliographic citation information. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.