IEUBK Modeling of Children’s Blood Lead Levels in Homes Served by Private Domestic Wells in Three Illinois Counties

Sarah Keeley, Samuel Dorevitch, Walton Kelly, David E. Jacobs, Sarah D. Geiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lead is known to impair neurocognitive development in children. Drinking water is routinely monitored for lead content in municipal systems, but private well owners are not required to test for lead. The lack of testing poses a risk of lead exposure and resulting health effects to rural children. In three Illinois counties, we conducted a cross-sectional study (n = 151 homes) examining water lead levels (WLLs), water consumption, and water treatment status to assess risk of lead exposure among residents using private water wells. Since blood lead levels (BLLs) were not available, EPA’s Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic (IEUBK) modeling was used to estimate the incremental contribution of WLL to BLL, holding all other sources of lead at their default values. Nearly half (48.3%) of stagnant water samples contained measurable lead ranging from 0.79 to 76.2 µg/L (median= 0.537 µg/L). IEUBK modeling showed BLLs rose from 0.3 to 0.4 µg/dL when WLLs rose from 0.54 µg/L (the tenth percentile) to 4.88 µg/L (the 90th percentile). Based on IEUBK modeling, 18% of children with a WLL at the 10th percentile would have a BLL above 3.5 µg/dL compared to 27.4% of those with a WLL at the 90th percentile. These findings suggest that the consumption of unfiltered well water likely results in increased blood lead levels in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number337
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • epidemiology
  • well water
  • lead poisoning
  • social determinants of health
  • health disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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