Frank DiTraglia awarded Public Policy Challenge fund support

Associate Professor Frank DiTraglia and his research colleagues (Professor Ludovica Gazze, University of Warwick and Ms. Helen Crabbe, UK Health Security Agency) have been awarded a Public Policy Challenge Fund Award for their research to improve the evidence base on childhood exposure to lead. 

Childhood lead exposure has severe developmental consequences that cut across several life domains, causing behavioural issues, and worsening educational attainment, health, and labour market outcomes. In recognition of these consequences, the public health intervention threshold for lead exposure in UK children was halved from 10 to 5 micrograms per declitre in July of 2021. At present, however, there is no systematic lead screening program for UK children, and there have been no recent surveys of lead exposure in the UK. The recently-passed $1 trillion US infrastructure bill included $15 billion for lead remediation, motivated by a strong evidence base suggesting that lead remains a problem for US children. This project will begin the task of building the missing evidence base for the UK, by gathering, merging, and analysing existing data sources, and carrying out a feasibility study for a survey of household lead exposure. Because lead exposure it likely to be geographically concentrated in poorer areas, this evidence base could play an important part of the UK government's "Levelling Up" Agenda.

Throughout this project, the team will engage with policymakers and stakeholders mentioned on the important implications of undetected lead exposure in the UK. They will first convene a small workshop with GPs, public health academics and other practitioners at which they will discuss the project objectives and implementation avenues.

At the end of the project, there will be a public launch event at which they will disseminate their findings to a broader range of stakeholders and discuss actionable policy implications resulting their research. These activities are specifically designed to broaden and deepen policy networks by bringing together academics, practitioners, and policymakers from different agencies whose research and policy interests relate to lead exposure in the UK.