MADISON (WKOW) --- A University of Wisconsin study find children who are exposed to lead are three times more likely to be suspended from school in the 4th grade.
The study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Wisconsin Partnership Program Education and Research Committee finds lead exposure could be more responsible for discipline issues than people think.
Nationally, African American students are three time more likely to be suspended than white students.
That is the same here in Wisconsin, but this study finds 23 percent of the disparity was explained by rates of lead exposure.
According to Sheryl Magamen, a public health researcher, "We knew that lead exposure decreases children's abilities to control their attention and behavior, bet we were still surprised that exposed children were so much more likely to be suspended."
In the study, researchers looked at medical data of nearly 4,000 children exposed to lead with 4th grade disciplinary records in the Milwaukee school district.
They found children who were exposed to lead were nearly three times more likely to be suspended in the fourth grade than children not exposed, even after controlling race, income and gender.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African American children are more than twice as likely as whites to have elevated lead levels.
Researchers say that number is due to lower income neighborhoods.
In the city of Milwaukee, lead abatement orders are active right now on more than 100 residential properties. Magamen says landlords should be more on top of safe housing, as she says this study proves future generations depend on it.
This study will be published in the September 2013 issue of Environmental Research.