A study conducted on children in North Carolina by experts at Duke University found that racial and ethnic disparities in academic performance may stem from adverse exposure to lead and racial residential segregation.
The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers focused on blood lead surveillance data and fourth-grade standardized test scores of over 25,000 human subjects.
“We constructed a census tract-level measure of racial isolation (RI) of the non-Hispanic Black (NHB) population,” the authors explained in their study. “We fit generalized additive models of reading and mathematics test scores regressed on individual-level blood lead level (BLL) and neighborhood RI of NHB (RINHB).”
According to the authors’ findings: ” Higher BLL was associated with lower mathematics test scores among NHB and non-Hispanic White (NHW) children, but there was no evidence of an interaction.”
“In conclusion, NHB children with high BLLs residing in high RINHB neighborhoods had worse reading scores.”
The findings were published online on August 15, 2022.