Keywords: built environment, lead exposure, lead poisoning, housing quality, economic impact, cost-benefit assessment, housing remediation policy, low-quality housing, lost productivity, tax revenues, interim controls, abatement, environmental health, lead-based paint, USA, United States, IQ, earnings potential, young children
An economic impact assessment of lead exposure in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, USA: making the case for statewide remediation
Childhood lead poisoning is a major, preventable environmental health problem in the USA. The primary source of lead poisoning in children is exposure to deteriorating lead-based paint in older low-quality, low-income housing. The circumstance of concentrated poverty and the shortage of high quality low-income housing provide a recipe for increasing disease rates attributed to lead exposure. This paper assesses the economic impact of lead exposure in high-risk housing among children residing in the Commonwealth of Kentucky as measured by productivity and tax revenues lost. It examines remediation costs of high-risk housing statewide against the costs of exposure. Specifically, it examines the relationships between IQ and earnings potential, lost earnings and tax revenue generation, remediation costs and the cost of exposure, and it evaluates these costs against exposure reduction and suggests a strategy for comprehensive remediation activities that pays for itself over time. The results of this analysis determine that the long-term benefits of reducing the outcomes associated with lost productivity among young children per year due to lead exposure would generate sufficient tax revenue to pay for complete remediation of all high risk low-quality housing units in Kentucky.