Cutting Lead Poisoning and Public Costs

Feb 22, 2010

Despite dramatic improvements over the past 30 years, lead poisoning remains a serious hazard for hundreds of thousands of young children across the country. Lead exposure can cause significant biological and neurological damage, resulting in cognitive and behavioral impairment that can affect children's lifelong success.

A new study from the Partnership for America's Economic Success identifies continuing risks, particularly for low-income children who live in older housing with lead paint, and the potential for significant cost savings from reduced rates of lead exposure.   According to the study, large-scale efforts to decrease lead levels would yield at least $17 per dollar invested, saving billions of taxpayer dollars through a range of social benefits.

The study found that the benefits of lead poisoning prevention ranged from $192 to $270 billion.  The costs of lead exposure were divided into six categories: 

  • • Health care
    • IQ and lifetime earnings losses
    • Increased special education needs and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
    • Behavior problems and crime


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