Previous epidemiological studies in Durham have identified geographic clustering of elevated levels of exposure to environmental toxins, such as lead and cadmium, among pregnant women. Communities of color and low-income communities experience a higher frequency and magnitude of exposure to harmful environmental hazards such as pollutants, pesticides, and carcinogens. Pregnant women who are exposed to elevated levels of harmful toxins have an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, birth defects, and low birth-weight deliveries.
- Only 20% of survey respondents reported being well informed about environmental toxins
- 47% of respondents were concerned about their exposure to environmental toxins
- Only 19% of survey participants report having previous blood test for environmental toxins
- 44% of survey participants reported practicing preventive cleaning habits more than once a week
- 50% of homes in areas with high-risk for exposure are female-headed households
- 31% of survey respondents learned about environmental toxins from a friend or with children family member
- 73% of residents living in areas with highest risk of exposure are Black
- Poverty rates in high-risk areas range from 31% - 50%
- Areas with geographic clustering of high-risk levels overlap with housing units owned by Durham Housing Authority
- Pregnant women in NC with two consecutive blood lead levels exceeding the blood lead action level (BLAL) are eligible for a free environmental assessment
- NC requires routine blood lead testing for children at 12 months and 24 months of age who live in high-risk areas; however, routine testing is not mandated for pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant living in high-risk area
To increase the awareness of these preventative practices among residents living in high-risk areas in Durham, the Durham Public Health Department in partnership with the Durham Housing Authority (DHA) should lead a robust public health campaign utilizing social media and print marketing materials, specifically adapted to reach individuals and families living in the high-risk areas.
Identical blood lead levels in pregnant women are passed along to their developing baby as lead freely passes through the placenta. There is no safe blood lead level for children.