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Lodge, Evans K.; Martin, Chantel L.; Fry, Rebecca C.; White, Alexandra J.; Ward-Caviness, Cavin K.; Galea, Sandro; & Aiello, Allison E. (2023). Objectively Measured External Building Quality, Census Housing Vacancies and Age, and Serum Metals in an Adult Cohort in Detroit, Michigan. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, 33, 177–86. PMCID: PMC9666563


BACKGROUND: Residentially derived lead pollution remains a significant problem in urban areas across the country and globe. The risks of childhood residence in housing contaminated with lead-based paint are well-established, but less is known about the effects of housing quality on adult lead exposure.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of residential-area housing age, vacancy status, and building quality on adult lead exposures.
METHODS: We evaluated the effect of Census block group housing vacancy proportion, block group housing age, and in-person survey evaluated neighborhood building quality on serum levels of lead, mercury, manganese, and copper among a representative cohort of adults in Detroit, Michigan, from 2008-2013 using generalized estimating equations.
RESULTS: Participants in Census block groups with higher proportions of vacant and aged housing had non-significantly elevated serum lead levels. We identified similar positive associations between residence in neighborhoods with poorer objectively measured building quality and serum lead. Associations between Census vacancies, housing age, objectively measured building quality, and serum lead were stronger among participants with a more stable residential history.
SIGNIFICANCE: Vacant, aged, and poorly maintained housing may contribute to widespread, low-level lead exposure among adult residents of older cities like Detroit, Michigan. US Census and neighborhood quality data may be a useful tool to identify population-level lead exposures among US adults.
IMPACT: Using longitudinal data from a representative cohort of adults in Detroit, Michigan, we demonstrate that Census data regarding housing vacancies and age and neighborhood survey data regarding housing quality are associated with increasing serum lead levels. Previous research has primarily focused on housing quality and lead exposures among children. Here, we demonstrate that area-level metrics of housing quality are associated with lead exposures among adults.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology


Lodge, Evans K.
Martin, Chantel L.
Fry, Rebecca C.
White, Alexandra J.
Ward-Caviness, Cavin K.
Galea, Sandro
Aiello, Allison E.

Article Type




Data Set/Study

Detroit Neighborhood Health Study (DNHS)


United States of America




Lodge - 0000-0002-2222-5441
Aiello - 0000-0001-7029-2537
Martin, C. - 0000-0003-1907-0810