Sherry L. Dixon
David E. Jacobs
Jonathan W. Wilson
Judith Y. Akoto
C. Scott Clark
University of Cincinnati, 2180 East Galbraith Road, Room 241, GRI Building A, ML 0505, Cincinnati, OH 45237-1625, USA
Received 3 October 2011. Revised 21 January 2012. Accepted 23 January 2012. Available online 9 February 2012.
Window replacement is a key method of reducing childhood lead exposure, but the long-term effectiveness has not been previously evaluated. Windows have the highest levels of interior lead paint and dust compared to other building components. Our objective was to conduct a follow-up study of residential window replacement and lead hazard control 12 years after homes were enrolled in an evaluation of the HUD Lead Hazard Control Grant Program, sampling settled lead dust in housing in four cities (n=189 homes). Previous work evaluated lead hazard controls up to 6 years after intervention using dust lead measurements and two years after intervention using both dust and blood lead data. But the earlier work could not examine the effect of window replacement over the longer time period examined here: 12 years. The individual homes were assigned to one of three categories, based on how many windows had been replaced: all replacement, some replacement, or non-replacement. Windows that were not replaced were repaired. We controlled for covariates such as site, housing condition, presence of lead paint, and season using longitudinal regression modeling. Adjusted floor and sill dust lead geometric mean dust lead loadings declined at least 85% from pre-intervention to 12 years after the intervention for homes with all replacement windows, some windows replaced and no windows replaced. Twelve years after intervention, homes with all replacement windows had 41% lower interior floor dust lead, compared to non-replacement homes (1.4 versus 2.4 μg/ft2, p<0.001), and window sill dust lead was 51% lower (25 versus 52 μg/ft2, p=0.006) while controlling for covariates. Homes with some windows replaced had interior floor and window sill dust lead loadings that were 28% (1.7 versus 2.4 μg/ft2, p=0.19) and 37% (33 versus 52 μg/ft2, p=0.07) lower, respectively, compared to non-replacement homes. The net economic benefit of window replacement compared to window repair (non-replacement) is $1700$2000 per housing unit. Homes in which all windows were replaced had significantly lower lead dust. New windows are also likely to reduce energy use and improve home value. Lead-safe window replacement is an important element of lead hazard control, weatherization, renovation and housing investment strategies and should be implemented broadly to protect children.