Healthy Homes and Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program


To protect the health and safety of children, workers and the general public by identifying and decreasing environmental hazards.

2012 Accomplishments and Milestones

  • Developed a Healthy Homes in Healthy Communities Strategic Plan 2012-2017
  • In 2012, CDC's Lead and Healthy Homes Program budget was cut from $29 million to just $2 million. For Rhode Island, the grant funding was cut to zero. Rhode Island will be challenged over the coming year to meet state and federal mandates for lead poisoning prevention while attempting to help many more families of children with elevated blood lead levels.
  • Revised Lead Screening Guidelines based on CDC's recommendation to define child blood lead levels of greater than or equal to 5mcg/dL as elevated.
  • Setting >=5mcg/dL as an elevated blood lead level, the number of incident cases in RI in 2011 increased from 200 cases to 1,279. The incidence rate increases from 0.8% to 5.3% The incidence rate in the core cities of Centeral Falls, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket is 7.4%
  • Setting >=5mcg/dL as an elevated blood lead level, the statewide prevalence increased from 1.02% (when based upon a BLL of greater than or equal to 10 mgc/dL) to 7.54%
  • Published 2012 Healthy Housing Databook
  • In accordance with the Center for Disease Control changed the blood lead level of concern to greater than or equal to 5mgc/dL from greater than or equal to 10mgc/dL

What We Do

The Healthy Homes and Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program coordinates statewide efforts to eliminate lead poisoning; reduce lead exposure in children; develop and implement policies to enforce healthy housing practices; and create a safer living environment for all Rhode Islanders. We do this primarily with funding, guidance, and technical support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The program supports efforts to promote and monitor:

  • lead screening,
  • surveillance and monitoring,
  • case management and environmental inspections,
  • public outreach and education,
  • partnerships with the Healthy Housing Collaborative,
  • lead training for the building trades, and
  • compliance and enforcement.

Lead Screening

The Rhode Island Lead Poisoning Prevention Act and Regulations require all children younger than six years of age to be screened for lead poisoning according to the Department's Lead Screening and Referral Guidelines. Child care providers and elementary schools are asked to document that children are screened prior to enrollment, and health insurers based in Rhode Island are required to cover lead screening analysis. All lead screening results are reported to the Department of Health and maintained in a database. more

Surveillance and Monitoring

Rhode Island requires healthcare providers to report the results of all blood lead level tests for children younger than six years old who live in Rhode Island. Lead screening data collected since the early 1990s is maintained in the Lead Elimination Surveillance System and is used for measuring lead screening rates and the incidence and prevalence of lead poisoning, as well as for program evaluation and quality assurance. Environmental inspections and compliance and enforcement activities are also tracked electronically. Data is used to publish our annual “Childhood Lead Poisoning in Rhode Island: The Numbers” databook. more

Case Management and Environmental Inspections

We refer children with “significant lead poisoning” to one of four Lead Centers in the state to receive case management and in-home education. We also offer a comprehensive environmental inspection of their homes Children younger than six years old who live in Rhode Island are considered significantly lead poisoned if they have one venous blood lead level of 20 mcg/dL or two persistent venous blood lead levels of 15 to 19 mcg/dL in tests performed at least 90 days but less than 365 days apart. more

Public Outreach and Education

We conduct a number of statewide efforts to educate parents, property owners, professionals, and the general public about the dangers of lead poisoning, as described in our Outreach and Education Plan. Staff on our HEALTH Information Line are available to answer general questions at 401-222-5960. Educational materials are also offered free of charge to state agencies.

Partnerships with the Healthy Housing Collaborative

As required by the CDC, we convene and support the Healthy Housing Collaborative, which was formed in mid-2006. Partners in the Collaborative include representatives from health and housing agencies interested in improving overall housing in Rhode Island.

Lead Training for the Building Trades

We set parameters for licensing lead professionals to conduct environmental inspections and remove lead hazards from properties. Training providers are certified to teach classes for each of the lead professions.

Compliance and Enforcement

We conduct field investigations on sites where lead hazard removal is being performed to ensure that workers are appropriately licensed and that they follow all regulations and lead safe work practices.

Owners of units identified with lead violations are sent Notices of Violation to remove lead hazards and provided with technical assistance to conduct this properly. If lead hazards are not removed, enforcement efforts are put in place in coordination with the Attorney General's Office and local courts.