Study Finds Link Between Lead Poisoning And Mastery Test Scores

May 20, 2011

A new study finds a link between lead poisoning in young children and lower scores on the CT Mastery Tests.  And black children in the state are more likely to be exposed to lead.

First, researchers looked at blood lead data for all Connecticut 4th graders in the 2007-2008 school year. Then they studied test scores on the CMTs.  

Rebecca Anthopolis is a statistical analyst with the Children’s Environmental Health Initiative at Duke University where the data were analyzed.

"What we found was a detrimental effect of lead exposure on reading and math tests. And then we also saw that we were observing this effect at very low levels of lead exposure." 

Many advocates would like to see a lower threshold for acceptable blood lead levels in children. 

The data also showed levels varied by race.

"Black children were more likely to be exposed to elevated lead levels than were white children.  And the data were suggesting that lead exposure could be a contributor to the achievement gap between black and white schoolchildren."

Children can be exposed to lead through paint, dust and air pollution. Lead can also enter drinking water. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects because their metabolism is high and their bodies are still growing.