Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.

Global Cost of Childhood Lead Exposure

Leonardo Trasande, M.D.
NIEHS Grant R21ES018723
New York University School of Medicine

According to research supported by NIEHS, low-income and middle-income countries experience the largest burden of lead exposure, with cost measured in what are known as international dollars. An international dollar is a hypothetical currency used to compare costs from various countries. It has the same purchasing power as a dollar would in the U.S.

The investigators estimate that childhood lead exposure in low-income and middle-income countries is associated with lost lifetime economic productivity of $977 billion international dollars annually, or 1.2 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. For comparison, lead-associated loss in lifetime economic productivity is estimated to be $50.9 billion international dollars in the U.S. and $55 billion international dollars in Europe.

The researchers calculated lead-associated loss, by developing a regression model to estimate average blood lead levels and estimating the lead-attributable economic costs with an environmentally attributable fraction model. They examined only the neurodevelopmental effects of lead, which were assessed using IQ points. The investigators estimate that the total lead-associated economic loss ranges from $728.6 to $1,162.5 billion international dollars, including $134.7 billion in Africa, $142.3 billion in Latin America and the Caribbean, and $699.9 billion in Asia.

Citation: Attina TM, Trasande L. 2013. Economic costs of childhood lead exposure in low- and middle-income countries. Environ Health Perspect; [Online 25 June 2013].

to Top