Evaluation of Rochester's Lead Law Published in EHP

Evaluation of Rochester's Lead Law Published in EHP

Environmental Health Perspectives article by: Katrina Smith Korfmacher, Maria Ayoob, Rebecca Morley

Background: Significant progress has been made in reducing the incidence of childhood lead poisoning in the United States in the past three decades. However, the prevalence of elevated blood lead in children (EBL, =10 µg/dL) remains high in some communities, particularly those with high proportions of pre-1978 housing in poor condition. Increasingly, municipalities are using local policy tools to reduce lead poisoning in high-risk areas. However, little is known about the effectiveness of such policies.

Objectives: This paper evaluates the effectiveness of a comprehensive rental housing-based lead law adopted in Rochester, New York in 2005.

Methods: This policy evaluation integrates analyses of City inspections data, a survey of landlords, landlord focus groups, and health department data on children’s blood lead levels from the first four years of implementation of that law. Results: Implementation has proceeded consistent with projected numbers of inspections with nearly all target units inspected in the first four years. Higher than expected inspection passage rates suggest landlords have reduced lead hazards in rental housing affected by the law. Implementation of the lead law does not appear to have had a significant impact on the housing market.

Conclusions: Although many uncertainties remain, our analysis suggests that the lead law has had a positive impact on children’s health. Strong enforcement, support for community based lead programs, and ongoing intergovernmental coordination will be necessary to maintain lead safe housing in Rochester. Lessons learned from the Rochester experience may inform future local lead poisoning prevention policies in other communities.

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