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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Apr 18;(4):CD006047. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006047.pub3.

Household interventions for preventing domestic lead exposure in children.

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Royal Far West, Manly, Australia.



Lead poisoning is associated with physical, cognitive and neurobehavioural impairment in children and trials have tested many household interventions to prevent lead exposure. This is an update of the original review by the same authors first published in 2008.


To determine the effectiveness of household interventions in preventing or reducing lead exposure in children as measured by reductions in blood lead levels and/or improvements in cognitive development.


We identified trials through electronic searches of CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library, 2010, Issue 2), MEDLINE (1948 to April Week 1 2012), EMBASE (1980 to 2012 Week 2), CINAHL (1937 to 20 Jan 2012), PsycINFO (1887 to Dec week 2 2011), ERIC (1966 to 17 Jan 2012), Sociological Abstracts (1952 to 20 January 2012), Science Citation Index (1970 to 20 Jan 2012), ZETOC (20 Jan 2012), LILACS (20 Jan 2012), Dissertation Abstracts (late 1960s to Jan 2012), (20 Jan 2012), Current Controlled Trials (Jan 2012), Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (Jan 2012) and the National Research Register Archive. We also contacted experts to find unpublished studies.


Randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials of household educational or environmental interventions to prevent lead exposure in children where at least one standardised outcome measure was reported.


Two authors independently reviewed all eligible studies for inclusion, assessed risk of bias and extracted data. We contacted trialists to obtain missing information.


We included 14 studies (involving 2656 children). All studies reported blood lead level outcomes and none reported on cognitive or neurobehavioural outcomes. We put studies into subgroups according to their intervention type. We performed meta-analysis of both continuous and dichotomous data for subgroups where appropriate. Educational interventions were not effective in reducing blood lead levels (continuous: mean difference (MD) 0.02, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.09 to 0.12, I(2) = 0 (log transformed); dichotomous ≥ 10µg/dL (≥ 0.48 µmol/L): relative risk (RR) 1.02, 95% CI 0.79 to 1.30, I(2)=0; dichotomous ≥ 15µg/dL (≥ 0.72 µmol/L): RR 0.60, 95% CI 0.33 to 1.09, I(2) = 0). Meta-analysis for the dust control subgroup also found no evidence of effectiveness (continuous: MD -0.15, 95% CI -0.42 to 0.11, I(2) = 0.9 (log transformed); dichotomous ≥ 10µg/dL (≥ 0.48 µmol/L): RR 0.93, 95% CI 0.73 to 1.18, I(2) =0; dichotomous ≥ 15µg/dL (≥ 0.72 µmol/L): RR 0.86, 95% CI 0.35 to 2.07, I(2) = 0.56). When meta-analysis for the dust control subgroup was adjusted for clustering, no statistical significant benefit was incurred. The studies using soil abatement (removal and replacement) and combination intervention groups were not able to be meta-analysed due to substantial differences between studies.


Based on current knowledge, household educational or dust control interventions are ineffective in reducing blood lead levels in children as a population health measure. There is currently insufficient evidence to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of soil abatement or combination interventions.Further trials are required to establish the most effective intervention for prevention of lead exposure. Key elements of these trials should include strategies to reduce multiple sources of lead exposure simultaneously using empirical dust clearance levels. It is also necessary for trials to be carried out in developing countries and in differing socioeconomic groups in developed countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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