Panel Paper: Lead Exposure and School Attendance

Saturday, November 9, 2019
I.M Pei Tower: Majestic Level, Majestic Ballroom (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Gisella Kagy, Vassar College

The leaching of lead into drinking water through lead plumbing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century represents a period of immense exposure to an environmental toxin that has damaging health consequences. This paper examines the effects of exposure to waterborne lead on children's school attendance in Massachusetts from 1860 - 1900. Using variation in exposure to waterborne lead based on length and severity of exposure, emphasizing the link between the amount of lead in water and the chemical properties of water, I find a strong negative relationship between school attendance and waterborne lead intensity.