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What Is Your Local Lead Risk

Explore the Lead Risk Map to understand where lead is a significant problem in North Carolina.

What is the Lead Risk Map?

The biggest source of children’s lead exposure is lead-based paint in older housing. NC Child’s Housing Lead Risk Map for North Carolina is a tool to identify areas where people face a higher chance of being exposed to lead. If you live in an area with a higher lead risk (darker red), talk to your health care provider about whether you or your child should be tested for lead.

Instructions

Step 1

Enter your address in the box at the top left corner of the map..

Step 2

Look to the sidebar on the right for a color-coded key to show the risk level.

Step 3

Explore different risk factors in your area. Click on the boxes under “Layer List” to explore three map layers: Lead Risk Score, Percentage of Children with Elevated Lead, and Number of Children Under Age 5.

What does the Lead Risk Score mean?

  • Understanding the Lead Risk Score
    Two factors were used to calculate lead risk for each census tract: poverty and housing age. Research shows that these two factors are the strongest predictors of lead exposure. The higher the Lead Risk Score, the greater the number of both older homes and people living in poverty, in that location.
  • Children with Elevated Levels of Lead in their Bodies
    We included a map layer with information on the percent of kids ages zero to 6 who have been found to have elevated levels of lead in their bodies over a ten-year period (2005 to 2015). Darker colored areas represent higher percentages of children who have had confirmed elevated lead in their bodies (above 5 micrograms per deciliter).
  • Children Under Age Five
    In the map, we highlighted places in North Carolina where young children ages zero to 5 live. Young children face a higher risk of harm from exposure to lead.

*What is a census tract?
Census tracts are geographic areas established by the United States Bureau of Census. They are roughly the size of a neighborhood and typically have a population of 2,000-8,000 people

Acknowledgements

NC Child would like to thank Dr. Nancy Lauer, Environmental Policy Fellow at the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, for creating the Housing Lead Risk Map for North Carolina. Thank you to Michael Pell, data journalist at Reuters, for providing data on children tested for lead in North Carolina. See our “Methods and Data Sources” section for more information about data in the map.

Methods and Data Sources

We used two risk factors to calculate lead risk for each census tract: poverty and housing age. Research evidence consistently shows that these two factors are the strongest predictors of lead exposure. We obtained data on these risk factors from the American Community Survey, an annual survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau. Specifically, our model calculated lead risk using the following American Community Survey 5-year (2013-2017) estimates:

  1. Percent of people living below 125% of the Federal Poverty Level.
  2. Percent occupied housing built before 1980, weighted by the era built. The Consumer Product Safety Commission banned lead in new residential paint in the United States in 1978. Although lead-based paint is now off the market, millions of homes built before 1978 still have it on the walls or in dust from deteriorating lead-based paint.
Limitations of the Map
  1. The map only shows the trend of lead risk in each census tract and does not provide information on the risk of lead from an individual home.
  2. The map predicts risk from lead-based paint in housing but does not predict exposure risk from lead-contaminated water and soil or other sources of lead, such as vinyl miniblinds, toys or spices
Given current knowledge about lead exposure risks, the map shows that the population of children in high-risk areas are most at risk for lead exposure. This does not mean that an individual child living in a census tract with a high risk score is certain to come into contact with lead or to become lead poisoned. Alternatively, a low risk score does not guarantee that a child is safe from lead exposure.