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% of children age 1-5 who have elevated blood lead levels (5-9 μg/dL - venous confirmed)


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Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: April 2017

Author: Healthy Homes Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Vermont Department of Health

Lead poisoning is a serious, but preventable health problem. Through the years, however, remarkable progress has resulted in limiting the exposure to lead, heightening both public and health care provider education and reducing hazards in the home. The percentage of young children who have been screened for lead poisoning in Vermont has increased and the percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels has decreased.

This indicator is the percentage of children in Vermont aged 1-5 years with a venous confirmed blood lead level 5-9 µg/dL. It is based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The Healthy Homes Lead Poisoning Prevention Program compiles annual data for the previous year in April. This means that 2016 data become available in April 2017.


Through years of lead poisoning prevention work, the Vermont Department of Health has formed partnerships with many agencies and organizations. Key partners include the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), Vermont Chapter; the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Vermont Chapter; the City of Burlington, Community & Economic Development Office/Burlington Lead Program; the Vermont Child Health Improvement Project (VCHIP); the Vermont Department for Children and Families, Children's Integrated Services; the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), Lead Hazard Reduction Program; the Vermont Office of the Attorney General; and the Vermont Weatherization Program.

In addition, Vermont's Town Health Officers (THOs) provide local support and resources in every town in Vermont. THOs are appointed by the Commissioner of Health and serve as an extension to the Health Department in executing and enforcing health statutes, including enforcement of Vermont's Lead Law that applies to rental housing built before 1978.

Vermont has a history of success in cooperating with the CDC to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in young children. With internal and external partners already working together, Vermont has all the pieces in place to continue the trend of fewer children with blood lead levels and more lead-safe housing.

What Works

To prevent children from being exposed to lead, it is necessary to have a multipronged approach. It is critical to develop programs, support policies, and increase knowledge on how to prevent childhood lead poisoning. What works is educating the public and health care providers, increasing the percentage of lead-safe housing, and supporting healthy homes policies.


In aiming towards the goal of preventing childhood lead poisoning, the Healthy Homes Lead Poisoning Prevention Program will continue educational and outreach activities that have proven effective and will add several special outreach activities, including an initiative with ob/gyn providers, a special focus on the refugee population in Vermont, and the publication of a data surveillance report.

Ultimately, the way to decrease the number of children with high blood lead levels is to make Vermont's housing lead-safe and to educate parents about exposure sources so they can protect their children from lead. To measure whether the number of children with elevated blood lead levels is decreasing, Vermont will focus on working with health care providers to increase the testing rate by providing them with timely data, supporting them as they do medical case management, and continuing with back-up testing for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) clients at the district offices when providers fail to test.

Vermont has two HUD-funded lead hazard reduction programs: one serves the cities of Burlington and Winooski, while the other serves the rest of the state. The Program will continue to work with these strong partners in increasing the percentage of lead-safe housing, but will also target counties at higher risk with increased prevention and enforcement activities.

Similar to statewide efforts, local partners are using data to drive local strategy. For regional data on access to health indicators, check out our Public Health Data Explorer.

Why Is This Important?

This indicator is part of Healthy Vermonters 2020 (the State Health Assessment) that documents the health status of Vermonters at the start of the decade and the population health indicators and goals that will guide the work of public health through 2020. Click here for more information.

Notes on Methodology

Data is updated as it becomes available and timing may vary by data source. For more information about this indicator, see the data notes.

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