Rochester Blood and Dust Study

Project Funder: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Project Partner: University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

Project Contact: David E. Jacobs,, 443.539.4157

Project Description: This study validated the wipe sampling method for lead dust by comparing it to children’s blood lead levels and helped to serve as the scientific basis for EPA and HUD lead dust standards. We enrolled 205 children, 12-30 months of age who had lived in the same house since at least six months of age. Samples of dust were obtained from multiple locations in the children’s house using dust wipe sampling, the Baltimore Repair and Maintenance sampler (BRM; a cyclone vacuum-based method) and a second vacuum sampling method (DVM; a second vacuum method that used a portable air sampling pump and a 37-mm cassette equipped with a nozzle and collection filter). Other potential sources of environmental exposure were analyzed for lead including soil, water, and paint. The results showed that dust lead loading (weight of lead divided by surface area sampled, μg/ft2) explained significantly more of the variation in children’s blood lead than did dust lead concentration (weight of lead divided by total dust in the sample) and other sources of lead. Concentration of lead dust was available for the BRM and DVM methods but not the wipe method. The study also showed that the wipe sampling and BRM methods were both about equally predictive of children’s blood lead. Of the four types of surfaces measured, noncarpeted floors and interior windowsills/wells were all significantly associated with children’s blood lead levels. Because the wipe sampler is simpler to use and predictive of children’s blood lead, this study demonstrated that the wipe method was superior compared to the other two methods to determine if a housing unit is safe for children.


Related Articles: This study influenced or contributed findings to multiple later studies and articles, a handful of which are listed below.

Lanphear et al (1996). “Lead-contaminated house dust and urban children’s blood lead levels.” Retrieved from

Lanphear et al (1996). “Racial differences in Urban children’s environmental exposures to lead.” Retrieved from

Emond et al (1997). “Measurement error and its impact on the estimated relationship between dust lead and children’s blood lead: Members of the Rochester Lead-in-Dust Study Group.” Retrieved from

Lanphear et al (1997). “Pathways of lead exposure in urban children.” Retrieved from

Rust et al (1997). “Log-additive versus log-linear analysis of lead-contaminated house dust and children’s blood-lead levels. Implications for residential dust-lead standards.” Retrieved from

Lanphear et al (1998). “Environmental exposures to lead and urban children’s blood lead levels.” Retrieved from