Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Ann Epidemiol. 2012 Oct;22(10):738-43. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2012.07.004. Epub 2012 Aug 15.

Lead exposure and educational proficiency: moderate lead exposure and educational proficiency on end-of-grade examinations.

Author information

  • 1Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.



To investigate and quantify the impact of moderate lead exposure on students' ability to score at the "proficient" level on end-of-grade standardized tests.


We compared the scores of 3757 fourth grade students from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE). The sample consisted of children with a blood lead test before age 3 years that was either unquantifiable at the time of testing (<5 μg/dL) or in the range of moderate exposure (10-19 μg/dL).


After controlling for gender, poverty, English language learner status, race/ethnicity, school disciplinary actions, and attendance percentage, results showed a significant negative effect of moderate lead exposure on academic achievement for all 5 subtests of the WKCE. Test score deficits owing to lead exposure were equal to 22% of the interval between student categorization at the "proficient" or "basic" levels in Reading, and 42% of the interval in Mathematics.


Children exposed to amounts of lead before age 3 years that are insufficient to trigger intervention under current policies in many states are nonetheless at a considerable educational disadvantage compared with their unexposed peers 7 to 8 years later. Exposed students are at greater risk of scoring below the proficient level, an outcome with serious negative consequences for both the student and the school.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk