America's Health Rankings, United Health Foundation Logo

Housing With Lead Risk
Housing With Lead Risk in United States
United States

Explore national- and state-level data for hundreds of health, environmental and socioeconomic measures, including background information about each measure. Use features on this page to find measures; view subpopulations, trends and rankings; and download and share content.

How to use this page

United States Value:


Percentage of housing stock with potential elevated lead risk due to age of housing

Housing With Lead Risk in depth:

Housing With Lead Risk by State

Percentage of housing stock with potential elevated lead risk due to age of housing

Housing With Lead Risk Trends

Percentage of housing stock with potential elevated lead risk due to age of housing

Trend: Housing With Lead Risk in United States, 2023 Annual Report

Percentage of housing stock with potential elevated lead risk due to age of housing

United States

 U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

View All Populations

About Housing With Lead Risk

US Value: 16.5%

Top State(s): Nevada: 4.6%

Bottom State(s): New York: 31.9%

Definition: Percentage of housing stock with potential elevated lead risk due to age of housing

Data Source and Years: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2022

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

Lead, a naturally occurring heavy metal, is highly toxic in large amounts, especially for young children and pregnant women. Lead exposure can occur through inhalation, ingestion or skin contact and is found in many places, including in older homes, water pipes and soil. Once lead has been introduced to the human body, it is absorbed by the bloodstream and spread throughout the rest of the body, where it can affect other organs and tissues.

There is no known safe level of lead exposure. In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lowered the blood lead reference value — the threshold for identifying unsafe levels of lead in the blood — to 3.5 μg/dL. Studies found that even low levels of lead, far below the previous threshold of 10 µg/dL, are detrimental to cognitive development in children and can negatively impact intellectual function, attention-related behaviors and academic and cognitive skills well into adolescence and adulthood

High blood lead levels during pregnancy can be passed onto the developing fetus, which may cause miscarriages, low birth weight infants, preterm births and other congenital disabilities. 

Housing built before 1978 carries an elevated risk for lead exposure, and housing built before 1950 has the highest risk of lead exposure. Due to a ban on lead-based paint in 1978, housing built after this year carries minimal risk. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated that 89% of the 34.6 million homes with lead paint were built before 1978.

A study of young children ages 6 months to 2 years found that interior renovation of older homes — which often includes painting, sanding, scraping or other activities that might release lead dust into the air — further increased risk of lead poisoning. Over 3 million homes with children younger than age 6 had one or more lead-based paint hazards in 2021, 2.1 million of which were low-income households. Investing in lead paint hazard control for communities at high risk could provide a return of $17-$221 in societal and health costs for each $1 spent.

Populations most vulnerable to environmental lead exposure include:

  • Children younger than age 6, who tend to put their hands on objects that may be contaminated with lead dust.
  • Low-income households. Among low income households, those without government housing assistance have a higher prevalence of lead-based paint hazards than those receiving housing assistance.
  • Those who live in the Northeast and Midwest regions, where the housing is older and has significantly higher levels of lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards.

Strategies to reduce the negative consequences of lead exposure include:

The Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs maintains a Lead Poisoning Prevention Toolkit for agencies working to prevent lead exposure.

Healthy People 2030 has two objectives related to reducing lead exposure:

  • Reducing blood lead levels in children ages 1-5.
  • Reducing lead exposure among the population.

Bellinger, David C. “Very Low Lead Exposures and Children’s Neurodevelopment.” Current Opinion in Pediatrics 20, no. 2 (April 2008): 172–77.

Cox, David C., Gary Dewalt, Robert O’Haver, Jonathan Bielli, Peter J. Ashley, Warren Friedman, and Eugene A. Pinzer. “American Healthy Homes Survey II: Lead Findings.” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, October 29, 2021.

Gould, Elise. “Childhood Lead Poisoning: Conservative Estimates of the Social and Economic Benefits of Lead Hazard Control.” Environmental Health Perspectives 117, no. 7 (July 2009): 1162–67.

Jordan, Catherine M., Becky L. Yust, Leslie L. Robison, Peter Hannan, and Amos S. Deinard. “A Randomized Trial of Education to Prevent Lead Burden in Children at High Risk for Lead Exposure: Efficacy as Measured by Blood Lead Monitoring.” Environmental Health Perspectives 111, no. 16 (December 2003): 1947–51.

Lanphear, Bruce P., Kim Dietrich, Peggy Auinger, and Christopher Cox. “Cognitive Deficits Associated with Blood Lead Concentrations <10 Pg/dL in US Children and Adolescents.” Public Health Reports 115, no. 6 (2000): 521–29.

Lanphear, Bruce P., Richard Hornung, Jane Khoury, Kimberly Yolton, Peter Baghurst, David C. Bellinger, Richard L. Canfield, et al. “Low-Level Environmental Lead Exposure and Children’s Intellectual Function: An International Pooled Analysis.” Environmental Health Perspectives 113, no. 7 (July 2005): 894–99.

Roberts, David J., Sally M. Bradberry, Frances Butcher, and Araceli Busby. “Lead Exposure in Children.” BMJ 377 (April 7, 2022): e063950.

Ruckart, Perri Zeitz, Robert L. Jones, Joseph G. Courtney, Tanya Telfair LeBlanc, Wilma Jackson, Mateusz P. Karwowski, Po-Yung Cheng, Paul Allwood, Erik R. Svendsen, and Patrick N. Breysse. “Update of the Blood Lead Reference Value — United States, 2021.” MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 70, no. 43 (October 29, 2021): 1509–12.

Spanier, Adam J., Stephen Wilson, Mona Ho, Richard Hornung, and Bruce P. Lanphear. “The Contribution of Housing Renovation to Children’s Blood Lead Levels: A Cohort Study.” Environmental Health 12 (August 27, 2013): 72.

Washington State Department of Health. “A Targeted Approach to Blood Lead Screening in Children, Washington State: 2015 Expert Panel Recommendations.” Washington State Department of Health, Division of Environmental Public Health, Office of Environmental Public Health Sciences, Environmental Epidemiology Section; Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, May 2016.

Wengrovitz, Anne M., and Mary Jean Brown. “Recommendations for Blood Lead Screening of Medicaid-Eligible Children Aged 1--5 Years: An Updated Approach to Targeting a Group at High Risk.” MMWR. Recommendations and Reports 58, no. RR-9 (August 7, 2009): 1–11.

Current Reports

America’s Health Rankings builds on the work of the United Health Foundation to draw attention to public health and better understand the health of various populations. Our platform provides relevant information that policymakers, public health officials, advocates and leaders can use to effect change in their communities.

We have developed detailed analyses on the health of key populations in the country, including women and children, seniors and those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, in addition to a deep dive into health disparities across the country.