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“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are some of the most widespread and hazardous sources of lead exposure for young children in the United States.  When lead-based paint peels and cracks, it results in lead-contaminated paint chips and dust.  Children can be poisoned if they chew on surfaces coated with lead-based paint, eat flaking paint chips, or eat or breathe in lead dust.  CDC has reported that there is no safe blood lead level in people and there is no cure for lead poisoning, which is why it is important to prevent exposure to lead, especially among young children.  Approximately 126,380 public housing buildings and 696,260 units were built before 1978, which was the year the Federal Government banned lead-based paint. 

As of March 2022, HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center—an office within HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing—was establishing the Environmental Shared Services office (ESS) to improve its risk assessment and inspection capabilities for health and safety hazards, including lead-based paint hazards.  ESS will provide insight into potential and existing environmental hazards, compliance issues, and data gaps to improve HUD’s decision making and facilitate allocating resources to drive effective hazard management strategies.  As part of its purpose, ESS will rank risks related to four environmental hazards—carbon monoxide, mold, lead, and radon.  In establishing its risk-ranking model, ESS identified five indicators for its lead risk ranking. 

Using the best available data collected from both HUD and sources external to HUD, we identified nine indicators of potential risk for lead-based paint hazards in public housing:

  1. American Healthy Homes Survey II estimated regional percentage of lead-based paint hazards.
  2. Number and percentage of public housing units in the region constructed before 1978.
  3. Number of recorded children with EBLLs living in public housing.
  4. Number of substandard or troubled Public Housing Assessment System scores.
  5. Number of public housing agencies (PHA) on the Lead-Based Paint Response tracker.
  6. Amount of funding received from HUD’s Lead-Based Paint Capital Fund or Housing Related Hazards Capital Fund grant programs.
  7. Amount of funding received from CDC childhood lead poisoning prevention programs.
  8. Number and percentage of confirmed EBLLs in tested children greater than 5 µg/dL, as reported by CDC.
  9. Lead Exposure Risk Index.

Based on our analysis of these nine risk indicators, we identified five HUD regions and six States within those regions—New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, and Texas—with the most potential risk of having PHAs with lead-based paint hazards.  In addition, our analysis identified eight other States that, while not measuring as the most at-risk State in their respective regions, also have a higher potential risk of having lead-based paint hazards.  Although HUD has identified its own risk indicators for lead-based paint hazards, of which four overlap with our indicators, this report may be helpful to HUD as it continues identifying and evaluating risk indicators and evaluating how well those indicators are identifying potential issues of lead-based paint in HUD-assisted public housing.”

*This report was updated on December 8, 2022 for accuracy of information on pages 4, 9-10, 12, 14-15, 20-21, and 25 noted by an asterisk in the footnote.