Chronic environmental and occupational lead exposure and kidney function among African Americans: Dallas lead project II

Robert Reilly, Susan Spalding, Brad Walsh, Jeanne Wainer, Sue Pickens, Marcene Royster, John Villanacci, Bert B. Little

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: We examined the effects of lead on kidney function in occupationally and environmentally exposed adults from a Dallas lead smelter community that was the site of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund clean-up. All subjects were African Americans—a racial group that bears a disproportionate burden of kidney disease. Methods: A two-phase health screening was conducted. Phase II included a physical examination and laboratory tests. Study subjects were African Americans residents, aged ≥19 years to ≤89 years. Of 778 subjects, 726 were environmentally exposed and 52 were both occupationally and environmentally exposed. The effects of lead exposure on estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) were examined in three groups: male and female smelter-community residents, as well as males with both occupational and environmental exposure. Multiple linear regression was used to analyze the dependence of eGFR on log (blood lead level), duration of residence in the community, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. Results: There was a statistically significant negative effect on kidney function for all three groups. Comparison of female and male residents showed a slightly larger negative effect of blood lead level on eGFR in females versus males, with the largest effect seen in male smelter-working residents. For each unit increase (log 10 10µg/dL = 1) in blood lead level, age-adjusted eGFR was reduced 21.2 mL/min/1.73 m 2 in male residents, 25.3 mL/min/1.73 m 2 in female residents and 59.2 mL/min/1.73 m 2 in male smelter-working residents. Conclusions: Chronic lead exposure is associated with worsening kidney function in both African American male and female residents, as well as male workers in Dallas smelter communities. This effect is slightly, but not statistically significantly, worse in female residents than male residents, and significantly worse in males that both worked and resided in the smelter community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2875
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 14 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • African-Americans
  • Environmental factors
  • Lead
  • Renal function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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