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The social costs of childhood lead exposure in the post-lead regulation era

Environmental Health Economic Analysis Annotated Bibliography


Research article Cost analysis (CA), Cost-benefit analysis (CBA)
Muennig P
Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
The authors estimated the benefits that might be realized if all children in the United States had a blood lead level of less than 1 μg/dL. This cost–benefit analysis estimated that policy changes to reduce childhood lead exposure would amount to societal benefits of $50,000 per child annually, and an overall savings of approximately $1.2 trillion for US society as a whole. The authors concluded that more aggressive programs aimed at reducing childhood lead exposure may produce large social benefits.
Children (≤ 6 years)

Health Outcomes

  • Neurological/cognitive outcomes (IQ deficits)

Environmental Agents

List of Environmental Agents:

  • Metals (lead)

Source of Environmental Agents: (Not available)

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source


  • Cost analysis (CA)
  • Cost-benefit analysis (CBA)

Cost Measured:

  • IQ reduction
  • reduced lifetime earnings
  • crime costs
  • welfare costs
  • healthcare costs

Potential Cost Measures:

  • Costs related to teen pregnancy
  • costs related to low-birth weight infants
  • costs related to intergenerational transmission of poverty
  • costs of child abuse and nonviolent criminal activity

Benefits Measures:

  • Increase in high school graduation rates
  • quality adjusted life years (QALYs) gained
  • increase in lifetime earnings
  • reduction in administrative overhead for welfare costs
  • reduction in mortality
  • reduction in social costs of crime

Potential Benefits: (Not available)

Location: (Not available)

Models Used:

  • Markov Model
  • mortality models
  • Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQL) models

Methods Used:

  • The authors — 1) obtained data from published and electronic sources; 2) utilized a Markov model to project lifetime earnings, reduced crime costs, improvements in health, and reduced welfare costs; and 3) selected model inputs using a "levels of evidence" approach with inputs derived from randomized controlled trials given the highest priority.

Sources Used:

  • NHANES (1999-2006); additional sources cited in publication

Economic Evaluation / Methods and Source


  • Muennig P. 2009. The social costs of childhood lead exposure in the post-lead regulation era. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.



NIEHS Funding: (Not available)

Other Funding: (Not available)