The Policy and Standards Division of OHHLHC supports research on improving cost effective methods to identify and control lead-based paint and other housing-related health and safety hazards with a particular emphasis on children's health. The OHHLHC supports research primarily through grants that are competitively awarded through an annual Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for Healthy Homes Technical Studies and Lead Technical Studies Program. Project evaluations are also conducted by Healthy Homes Demonstration Program grantees, some of which are published. Research is also directed through contracts and is conducted through agreements with other federal agencies.
The following are highlights of some major research sponsored by the OHHLHC outside of the competitive grant process that is announced in the annual NOFA with links to related reports and publications. Information on research focus areas and results is also available on the Lead Technical Studies and Healthy Homes Technical Studies program pages.
In 2015, the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes conducted a survey of 98 Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control and Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration grantees to determine their practices and capabilities in achieving dust-lead clearance after lead hazard control activities are completed. For final floor clearance results, an estimated 85% of clearance results were at or below 10 µg/ft2, at least 97% of final windowsill clearance results were at or below 100 µg/ft2, and at least 94% of final window trough clearance results were at or below 100 µg/ft2. The findings support the feasibility of reducing the current dust-lead risk assessment and clearance standards to levels considerably below the current standards. Click here to access the report!
The American Healthy Homes Survey, June 2005-March 2006, measured levels of lead and arsenic in homes nationwide. 37.1 million homes (35%) had some LBP; 23.2 million (22%) had one or more LBP hazards; 93% of the homes with LBP were built before 1978. The highest prevalence of LBP and LBP hazards was in the Northeast and Midwest. Over three million homes with children under six years of age had LBP hazards, including 1.1 million low-income households. Less than 5% of homes had detectable levels of arsenic in dust (≥5 μg/ft2). Arsenic in soil (for homes with yard soil) averaged 6.6 parts per million (ppm). Many homes had soil arsenic levels of 20 ppm or greater, including 16% of homes with wooden structures in the yard and 8% of homes without such structures. Posted with permission from the Journal of Enviormental Health, a publication of the National Enviormental Health Association, www.NEHA.org .
Evaluation of HUD's Lead Hazard Control Grant Program
A study monitored 1034 dwellings in which lead hazard control interventions were conducted by 14 Lead Hazard Control program grantees through a 12-month post-intervention plan, with 278 dwellings followed over a 36-month period post-intervention. A follow-up study was conducted on 426 dwellings treated by four grantees that had participated in the original evaluation study. Some findings from the original and follow-up evaluations include the following:
- Geometric mean dust-lead loadings on floors, window sills, and window troughs were significantly reduced from pre-intervention levels at the 36-month follow up, with mean lead loadings for floors, window sills and window troughs of 9, 62, and 363 ?g/ft2, respectively.
- Treatments were effective at 6 years post-intervention, with geometric mean dust-lead loadings for floors and window sills, 11% and 23% lower, respectively, than any previous time following intervention. Higher intensity treatments resulted in lowers dust-lead loadings on window surfaces but not on floors.
- Treatments to both the exterior of the dwelling and to address lead-contaminated soils were associated with interior lower floor-dust lead loadings.
- The highest treatment-related failures were observed for painted components subject to abrasion, impact or weather and for window jamb liners.
- The blood-lead levels of children living in treated homes declined an average of 23% one year post-intervention. The HHI also supports research through contracts and interagency agreements with other federal agencies.
The National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing (NSLAH)
In 1998-2000 HUD sponsored a survey of a nationally representative sample of housing in the U.S. in which children could reside. 831 housing units were evaluated for lead in paint, dust and soil, and information was collected from residents through a questionnaire. The National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) partnered with HUD to analyze dust samples for the common household allergens (i.e., dust mite, cockroach, mouse, cat, dog, Alternaria), and endotoxin. Findings from the lead, allergen and endotoxin sampling have been published in peer-reviewed literature. Some major lead-related findings from NSLAH (discussed further in the full NSLAH report on analysis of lead hazards) include:
- 38 million housing units (40%) had lead-based paint and 24 million (25%) had significant lead-based paint hazards.
- 1.2 million dwellings with at least one significant lead-based paint hazard housed low income families with a child under the age of 6.
- 14% of housing units had significantly deteriorated lead-based paint, 16% had dust-lead hazards, and 7% had soil-lead hazards.
Reports on the use of the survey for determining allergen levels, the survey design, and several articles on allergen results have been published, such as on residential exposure to multiple allergens in regard to asthma, residential levels of dog and cat allergens, and house dust mite allergen levels in beds.
First National Environmental Health Survey of Childcare Centers
HUD sponsored a national environmental health survey of licensed childcare centers in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Lead was measured in paint and in dust and soil samples. Dust and wipe samples were also collected for allergen and pesticide analyses, respectively. A total of 168 randomly selected licensed daycare centers were recruited into the study and data were collected from July - October, 2001. Main lead-related findings from the survey include:
- Lead-based paint is present in 28% of childcare centers.
- 14% of childcare centers have one or more significant lead-based paint hazards (11% with significantly deteriorated lead-based paint, 3% with dust-lead hazards, and 2% have soil-lead hazards).
- Centers where the majority of children are African American are four times as likely (30% compared to 7%) to have significant lead-based paint hazards compared to those where a majority of children are white.
Pesticide results were reported in the following publication: Tulve, N.S., Jones, P.A., Nishioka, M.G., et al., Pesticide measurements from the first national environmental health survey of child care centers using a multi-residue GC/MS analysis method. Environ Sci Technol. 2006; 40(20): 6189-90.
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HUD-Sponsored Research by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) The OHHLHC has sponsored research by NIST on field methods for lead detection and measurement. The documents listed below can be ordered through NIST by locating the document and following the directions provided
- Ultrasonic Extraction/Anodic Stripping Voltammetry for Determining Lead in Dust: Analyses of Field-Sampled Wipes. October 2004. (NISTIR 7109).
- Ultrasonic Extraction/Anodic Stripping Voltammetry for Determining Lead in Dust: A Laboratory Evaluation. September 2004. (NISTIR 6998).
- Factors Affecting Ultrasonic Extraction of Lead from Laboratory-Prepared Household Paint Films: Further Investigations. March 2003. (NISTIR 6948).
- Factors Affecting Ultrasonic Extraction of Lead from Laboratory-Prepared Household Paint Films. May 2002. (NISTIR 6834).
- Ultrasonic Extraction/Anodic Stripping Voltammetry for Determining Lead in Household Paint: A Laboratory Evaluation. May 2000. (NISTIR 6571).
- Spot Test Kits for Detecting Lead in household Paint: A Laboratory Evaluation. May 2000. (NISTIR 6398).
Information for Researchers
The OHHLHC strongly encourages researchers who are planning and conducting housing-related health hazards research in communities to consider ethical issues associated with their research and to look for opportunities to involve the community in research planning and implementation. HUD was the major sponsor of a review by the Institute of Medicine of ethical considerations for this area of research, resulting in the publication of a report titled "Ethical Considerations for Research on Housing-Related Health Hazards Involving Children".